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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sometimes I Like My Collection

2007 Upper Deck Signature Sensations LaMarr Woodley Rookie Auto

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The First Editions To the BSU Collection

Some of you may have read a little while back that I am starting a college player collection.  Not just any college, but Ball State, my alumni school.  Anyway, I finally picked up my first additions to this budding collection.  Figured I would share.

So far, they are all Basketball cards, which I wouldn't normally collect.  But for the sake of this collection, I must.  But to make up for the fact that they are basketball, they are at least all autos.  That's something, right?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pam Can Catch

I'm sure everyone has seen this already because I am always late to the party.  But I wanted to share anyway because I think this doesn't happen enough in sports.

I know Chandler Harnish didn't do this on purpose or anything but sometimes you can't help but think that maybe, sometimes, it is.

Poor Pam.  She is one that I can actually tolerate on the field and the players actually seem to like her.  There are a ton of videos out there of her "off-the-air" chats with players.  Some of them are pretty funny.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

Pittsburgh Penguins 2013 NHL Draft Picks

The 2013 NHL Draft is long behind us and since I hadn't taken the time to review the players that will make up the "Future" of hockey in Pittsburgh, I thought I would take a moment and talk about each of the 6 picks the Pens received.  This was by far the deepest draft class in many years and a lot of talented young players were selected in the first three rounds.  I'm not sure the Penguins nailed any super-mega-awesomeness in any of these guys but it's hard to tell from just a draft position.

Most of the picks the Penguins made were for players that are not going to be called on for an immediate impact in the NHL.  A lot of these guys are very raw and will need a great deal of development.  To me, these 6 guys are long-term prospects (with one exception).

I will say this, if anyone out there has any of these guys on cardboard, I would be happy to take them off your hands.  I know Jarry has a few cards out there in the ITG Draft set and the ITG Between the Pipes set but I doubt the others will yet since most of them were still in High School.

Let's take a look

Tristan Jarry

Jarry was the first pick in the 2013 NHL Draft by the Penguins.  He came to them in the 2nd Round with the 44th overall pick (they didn't have a 1st round pick), but not without a price.  Ray Shero gave up their 50th pick in the 2nd round along with a 3rd round pick in order to move up the that spot and take Jarry.

Jarry played for the WHL Edmonton Oil Kings last season and finished with a league leading .936 save percentage and a record of 18-7.  He is a a butterfly-style goaltender and uses his size and agility well in net.  He is basically the complete opposite of Marc-Andre Fleury.  His stick work and glove side skills are top tier in the junior leagues and he is considered by many to have one of the best mental games around.  Plus, you won't see him slamming his stick, yelling at himself, or generally whining about giving up bad goals.

My take....First, he looks like his is 12 years old.  Heir apparent, indeed.  But if I've said this before, I'll say it again, I have very little expectations in the first few years for a highly touted goalie pick moving from junior hockey to the NHL.  The maturation process for a goaltender in the NHL is much longer than a forward or defenseman.  Skaters have an advantage because the speed of the game changes in intervals.  There is a big difference for a goalie from lower division hockey to the NHL.  Even at Penguins player development camp this summer, Jarry mentioned to the coaching staff that he thought the pucks were smaller because they were coming at him a lot faster than he was used to.  I think you will see him in Juniors for a few more years before he gets an opportunity on WBS or even a pre-season NHL game or two.  The Oil Kings should be giving him 35-40 starts this season.


Jake Guentzel

Guentzel was obtained in the 3rd round with the 77th overall pick.  Guentzel is still young and was scouted early on while playing for the Hill-Murray School in Maplewood, MN.  In 2010-11 he racked up 15 goals and 28 assists, followed by another 25 goals and 46 assists the following year.  In 2012-13, he played for Sioux City in the USHL where he put up 73 points and was named to the Second Team All-Stars.  His senior year at Hill-Murray, he committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha where he will play alongside another Penguin prospect, Josh Archibald.

My take...This guy is small.  But don't let size fool you into thinking he can't play.  He has all the prerequisites of a top-line NHLer, with the speed and agility of a guy 6 inches taller.  He has a head for hockey as his dad was once a prospect for the Rangers and is now an assistant coach for the University of Minnesota.  The Penguins are still hoping for a growth spurt in him (since the other men in his family are over 6' tall) and with a solid college program to compete in, the strength and condition will certainly help.  Because he is very skilled on both sides of the puck, I think he will inevitably get his shot sooner rather than later (as long as he grows).


Ryan Segalla

Segalla is a defenseman straight out of high school.  The Penguins selected Ryan with their 4th Round, 119th overall pick.  Segalla is a very big, strong, hard-hitting defenseman that can skate well and has excellent puck handling skills.  But the foundation of his ability lies in his physical game.  He is a very tenacious player with all the same capabilities of any "nuisance" grinder-type guy in the NHL.  He scored 10 goals and 8 assists in 28 games last year for Salisbury Prep in Connecticut.  He will also be playing in two seasons for the University of Connecticut.  Next year, he will most likely spend a year in the USHL with the Dubuque Fighting Saints who took him 15th overall in their Entry Draft.

My take...I didn't like this pick.  While Segalla is a great player to have on any team the looks to go deep into the playoffs, the Penguins are already so deep on defense that having another prospect is only going to muddy the waters more.  Their drafts over the last few years have been D-man heavy and they have also picked up a few prospects from other teams along the way.  I get the fact that he is raw enough that they will have at least 4-5 years of development before he straps on the Black & Gold but spending a 4th rounder on him, at least to me, was kind of a stretch.  I hope he can prove me wrong.


Dane Birks

Dane is another big defenseman that the Pens took with their 6th Round pick, 164th overall.  At 6'3", 190lbs, Birks has a big size advantage over a lot of the more speedy forwards that he faces, all of which could translate into a promising NHL career.  He is mobile and a very adept passer but with his lack of experience, he can only get better.  He played in the BCHL last year for the Merritt Centennials and will probably spend another year there before going on to play at Michigan Tech.

My take...Again, here was another pick that I was not too keen on but what do I know.  Apparently Birks has a wicked point shot already and a huge upside for skill development.  These young guys are all projects that are 4-5 years away and Birks is no exception.  With college in his future, he can hopefully learn what it takes to be a quality two-way defenseman because the Pens need that guy that can put up points on the PP and shut it down on the PK.  The depth they have already in the younger ranks of defensemen is quite astonishing when you compare that with other teams around the league.  It's one thing to have prospect depth.  It's another thing entirely when most of them will probably compete at the Pro level.


Blaine Byron

Blaine, while professionally raw, has all the skill to be a top-line forward in the NHL.  Last season, he put up 52 points in 51 games playing in the CCHL, winning the Top Propect Award for 12-13.  What he lacks in size, he makes up for in stick work, playmaking ability, and tenacity.  He is heading for the University of Maine where he should be able to hone his skills and hopefully develop into a premier shooting forward.  

My take...The fact that Byron was still available in the 6th round with the 179th pick is beyond my comprehension.  If anyone involved in prospecting hockey talent was unaware of this guy, they should have had their career path re-examined.  He is immensely talented on the ice and has the ability to create plays out of thin air like a couple other Penguins we know.  If he can get the right kind of tutelage in Maine, cut down on neutral zone turnovers, and bulk up a bit, this guy could be a defenseman's nightmare in a few years.

Troy Josephs

Mr. Irrelevant from a team perspective, Troy Josephs is anything but.  He is probably the most high-intensity, up-tempo, fore-check you to death guy they picked in the draft.  At 19, he has already shown that he can play at a high level from both a third or fourth line battler position or a goal scorer.  Last season, he put up 17 goals and 22 assists in 42 games.  Add to that another 20 points in 24 playoff games.  But like the others, he is a raw "work in progress" player that will be a long term project for the Pens to develop.  He is going to Clarkson University in the fall.

My take...Josephs is a checker.  Plain and simple.  The guy bangs on the fore-check, he bangs on the boards, and he is the first one into the pile in the corners.  If there is a need for a solid two-way guy for a checking line or the PK, Josephs will most certainly become one of the best at it.  Plus, with his on-ice vision and ability to put pucks tape-to-tape, there is no telling the potential here for Troy.  His stint in college should help clean up his game a little and strengthen his ability to compete at the NHL level.

Here are the particulars of the players in case you are into that kind of thing.

RndPickOverallTeamPlayerPosCountryHeightWeightAmateur LeagueAmateur Team
21444PITTristan JarryGCAN6' 1"183WHLEdmonton
31677PITJake GuentzelCUSA5' 9"157USHLSioux City
428119PITRyan SegallaDUSA6' 0"190HIGH-CTSalisbury
613164PITDane BirksDCAN6' 3"190BCHLMerritt
628179PITBlaine ByronCCAN5' 11"163CCHLSmiths Falls
728209PITTroy JosephsCCAN5' 11"176OJHLSt. Michael's

You Wanted The Best And You Got...An AFL Team

KISS is one of my all-time favorite rock bands.  Period.  For years of my life as a kid growing up, I wanted nothing more than to be a fifth member of the band.  I had KISS records, posters, cut up music magazine pics, a Gene mask, you name it.  Even during the makeup-less years, I was still a fan and even prefer many of those albums over the costumed versions.

My dreams were only exacerbated by the return of Peter Criss and Ace Frehley in the reunion of the original members back in 1995.  I camped out for tickets, bought the t-shirts, the posters, the calendars, all over again.  But even I, the most loyal of loyal fans, have officially decided the I think I have had too much.  I made mention of the fact before on here that I thought Gene "jumped the shark" with his Family Jewels reality show about his adventures with his quirky family.  Well...I was wrong.  Now it is official...

Check out this article by Jay Busbee on the Shutdown Corner blog on Yahoo! that first made me think that it was April Fools day again...

But it wasn't a joke...

You can even buy advanced tickets...

Or link to them on Facebook

And Twitter

I guess all I did here was promote them even further to the 25 people that read this blog.  Oh well.  I suppose I could think of worse bands to brand a professional sports team.  Go ahead and give me your own Rock/Sports combo in the comments and tell me why that would be a good fit for a sports ownership relationship.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

My 2013 National Sports Collectors Convention Experience

Now that everyone has had a week to recover from all the NSCC Show wrap-ups, reviews, critiques, and showcases, I figured I would strike while everyone has probably lost interest and give my 2-cents.

I went to the show on Saturday ONLY.  Even though I live outside of Chicago, it is still about a 70 minute drive to Rosemont for me, barring no traffic (and that isn't bloody likely).  Taking a week off of work to attend every waking moment of the show, while extremely tempting, is not feasible either.  One day is about my limit so I have to make the most of it.  Saturday morning, I scooped up the kiddos, loaded the truck with my battle pack, and we headed out (late of course but that's besides the point).  After our customary card show day breakfast and a brief stop at the Speedway for my giant cup of Dew and a fill-up for the pick-up, we were on our way.

My kids and their excitement as we make our way into the National.
Arriving at the show was just like any other large show in the Rosemont Convention Center.  We exited the expressway onto River Rd. and proceeded down to the parking garage that is shared by the CC and the neighboring hotels.  $13 to park isn't cheap but I've definitely seen much worse.  After heading to the top enclosed floor (also customary) we made our way through the garage, across the skywalk, and into the hallowed sanctuary of cardboard known as the National Sports Collector's Convention.

I planned on Tweeting pictures and status updates throughout the day but by noon, my phone was out of juice and the couple dozen tweets I had already sent through my Twitter App had apparently went AWOL.  I think only one or two actually posted to my account.  The rest apparently ate up my battery life trying to send to the the Twittersphere.  Since that plan was foiled early on, you can see why this is a very text heavy, non-image laden post.

I'm going to veer from the path or righteousness for a minute here and give my honest opinion of what I experienced.  Most reviews and discussions regarding this years show have been nothing but good will and praise for the dealer success, daily turnout, interactive events, and general organization (with a few exceptions).  While I'm not a dealer and I didn't attempt to stand in endless line-after-line of autograph guests, I still didn't get the impression that it was a record attendance like the promoters keep touting.  In fact, I didn't feel the excitement and energy like I usually do when I go to the NSCC (or any other show at the CC since there are two big ones each year put on by the Chicago Sun Times).

The promotions were there in force.  Upper Deck had their pack giveaways if you opened their product at their booth.  In fact, by the time we got up there with our packs in tow, they weren't really even checking.  I had a box of Fleer Retro Hockey that I opened, gave packs to both my kids and we all got to choose from the grab bag-o-packs.  Panini did much of the same only they "pre-opened" your boxes for you with small operationally precise incisions into your packs.  I picked up a 2013-14 Score Jumbo and a 2012-13 Rookie Anthology.  Leaf was there too, although I didn't partake in any of their freebies or promotions.  So was Topps but again, since they got out of the hockey business, I kind of ignore them.  All of the manufacturers had daily events, promotions, and excitement building craziness planned.  But with the exception of Blowout Cards 3PM Ping Pong Ball Raffle complete with carnival barker at the helm of a bullhorn, I hate to say it but I was kind of bored.  

Keep in mind that I went on a Saturday, generally the biggest day of the 5-day event, arriving about an hour after the general admission doors opened, stayed till almost 5PM, and not once was I ever pushed, stepped on, hurried along, or generally run over.  In other words, I felt like there was no one there.  Now maybe everyone was doing what I didn't do, and that's hound for autographs at an average price somewhere north of $85/guest.  That would explain the lack of bodies on the convention floor.  Or maybe everyone was hanging out in the Olympic Pavillion searching for their precious pins or taking their stuff for a shot at reality show stardom on the overly hyped and somewhat contrived TV show "A Piece Of The Game".  I don't know but I didn't feel like this was a record attendance by any means.  Two years ago in Chicago the place was on fire by 10AM on Saturday.  It was wall-to-wall people and you could almost barely move down any of the center lanes where the vendors were without being knocked around a few times.  That lasted from door open to door closed that day.  Not so much in 2013.

But maybe this was a good thing.  Believe it or not, myself and my two sons were able to traverse the entire show floor, see most of what was there, participate in a few promotions, stand in one autograph line, and even had time to sit for a spell and bust some boxes with my friend Sal from  Now I didn't park myself at any quarter or dime boxes because with the kids, that is generally not a good idea.  So that saved time.  And with the exception of Mr. Murray Bannerman, I skipped the auto pavilion altogether and didn't even go into the Olympic area.  So with that said, we were able to see all we could see in a limited amount of time.

Overall, we had a great time.  I always enjoy time with my kids and they thoroughly enjoy going to these shows with me and seeing all the interesting sports memorabilia, autograph stars, and millions of different sports collectibles.  Plus, it gives them a chance to experience some fundamental elements of this great hobby of ours like the show environment itself, trading with other collectors, the art of negotiation, and the thrill of the chase.  I was able to pick up a few singles for various PC collections I have, some autographs, and a few boxes of new product which I will show on here soon.

The kids?  Well they got some memories that I don't think they will forget anytime soon.

  1. They got to keep almost all the promotional pack cards from both Upper Deck and Panini.  Why anyone needs (9) 5-card sets from that day is beyond me.
  2. They snagged a bag full of various freebies from dealer tables like the guys from Pro-Mold, COMC, Cardboard Connection Radio, and the Benchwarmer girls (at least I think that's who they were).  
  3. A guy from Topps came up to them and gave them a couple mini-MLB vinyl figures from their booth (which turned out to be Evan Longoria and Dustin Pedroia).  
  4. Some random dealer gave them both a handful of penny sleeves and top loaders to go with an entire opened factory set of 1989 Upper Deck Baseball.  Bet you can't guess which card was missing???  I felt guilty for their generosity (or cruel joke) so I bought a few cards from their discounted auto box. 
  5. They both got to create their own cards at Upper Deck which has spawned a new activity to do with those cardboard decoy cards at our dining room table.  
  6. My oldest son pulled not one but two autographs from the wrapper redemption programs.  He received an autograph of Chicago Blackhawks young gun, Brandon Saad from the Upper Deck booth and a 8x10 jumbo card autograph of St. Louis Rams wide receiver Brian Quick.
  7. Each of them got to get one blaster box from the D&A Cardworld discount table.  Both of them pulled an autograph and jersey card out of each blaster...yes, I said both of them...out of blaster boxes...that were old before they can play the lottery??? (they were 2012 Bowman Baseball and 2011-12 Upper Deck Series I hockey in case you wondered)  
  8. They each got an 8x10 autograph of former Chicago Blackhawk goalie Murray Bannerman.  Mr. Bannerman actually talked to both the boys about baseball, hockey, and why my oldest should be a hockey player since he didn't have any front teeth (I got him to sign a puck).  

Like I said, when I get all the pictures together, I will be sure to post them all.  Here are a couple that didn't get obliterated by my phone...

 An awesome Jackie Robinson memorabilia display.  It was very eye catching so I took a pic.

The aftermath of destroying a jumbo box of 2013-14 Score Hockey and a box of 2012-13 Rookie Anthology.  

What I pulled from my Panini wrapper redemption packs.  I suppose it could have been worse.

Friday, August 9, 2013

New Collection: Ball State Alumni Gone Pro

As some of you out there know, I am a Cardinal Alumni.  I went to Ball State from 1995-1999 and pretty much had one of the most eye-opening, thought provoking, entertainingly awesome times of my life.  Much of that experience revolved around the various sporting events the occurred during my time (...although I spent the majority of the time studying and hanging out at the library...).

Those years were very good to be a Ball State fan.  In 1996, the football team won the MAC Conference and got to play in the Las Vegas Bowl (although we lost and to this day haven't won a bowl game).  Men's basketball with Ray McCallum at the helm went on the the NCAA tournament in 1995 and the NIT in 1998.  We sent two guys to the NBA during that time...Bonzi Wells and Theron Smith a couple years later.

Ball State Lacrosse was actually formed while I was there.  At the time it was intramural only but they are now a member of the Men's College Lacrosse Association and the Central Collegiate Lacrosse Association which sees some of the best teams in the country compete.  BSU Men's Ice Hockey was also in it's infancy stages as a club sport.  They will be competing in the Division III of the collegiate club level this year.

So with all that to go off of, I decided that I would make an attempt at building a Ball State Alumni collection that will encompass all sports (men and women).  There have been many professional BSU athletes over the years and it will be a difficult task, I'm sure, to complete a perfect collection.  But I think this will be a fun thing to add some spice to the old PC.

There are many players that have cards out there and there are a ton that were drafted, played a game or two, and were never heard from again.  Because of that, I realize this is going to be a collection of "commons" but should be fun.  If a BSU player is featured on cardboard, I will add them to the collection.

This is in no way a definitive list but some of the players that I will be looking for include:

Blaine Bishop, Timmy Brown, Brad Maynard, Rush Brown, Michael Blair, Corey Croom, Bernie Parmalee, Keith Mckenzie, Nate Davis, Robert Brewster, Dante Ridgeway...and many more

Bonzi Wells, Theron Smith  (that's it, only two ever!)

Larry Bigbie, Bryan Bullington (which will also fill a need in my Pirates team collection), Thomas Howard, Merv Rettenmund, Brad Snyder (and probably some that I'm missing)

I don't know of any.  For real.  Can't name one.  If you know of any, please share.

Tamara Bowie (only one I can think of)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Just Because - - The Greatest NFL Related Commercial Of 2013 (so far...)

I have nothing to say in order to preview this video...nothing to say about this video at all...words don't do it justice.

Just watch.  It is the most amazing thing I have seen in the last few hours.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Going To The Show

Tomorrow is my designated day for the excursion to the National Sports Collector's Convention in Rosemont, IL.  I attended the last two in Chicago and it was pretty much a no brainer for me to decide to attend this year too.  How can I consider myself a collector and not go when it's basically in my backyard (ie, less than an hour drive)?  The answer is, I can't.  Not rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail will keep me from the show this year.  Maybe a Sharknado or a Category-6 off Lake Michigan, but not any of those other things.

This years show seemed to be hyped down compared to previous years.  Maybe it was just me being my usual, recently out of touch blogger/collector but I really didn't see anything ramped up for the show until a few weeks ago.  In most years, I seem to recall hearing about promotions and the like well in advance and seeing much more advertising, at least here locally.  This year, not so much.  But that is okay by me because I will still be there with my traditional rolling bag in hand and my two "helpers" by my side.

The kids love going to these big shows because there is so much stuff to see.  It's like sports crack overload (not to be confused with ADD) for my two young, up and coming sports fanatics.  Not only that, they love to bust wax with me.  They have so much fun doing it and both of them have pretty good luck with the pulls.  A couple years ago, my oldest son, then 7, pulled a Quad Jersey out of an OPC blaster box!  Those odds were like 1:8,000 or something ridiculous like that.  Best part, it was a Crosby, Stamkos, Kane, Tavares one.  Crazy!  My youngest once pulled three autographs out of one of those Championship Series franken-boxes you find in retail stores.  It wasn't one that guaranteed 2 or more autos either.  Just the one that said "a $40 value".  Two of them were nobodies but one was a Johan Franzen from the 2005-06 Parkhurst set.  I let him keep hind-sight, maybe not the best idea.

I might Tweet from the show so if you are following, keep an eye out.  If you aren't following, well I'm not qualified to question your sanity.  I will also be sure to share my experiences later on the blog so stay tuned.

Slowly but surely I'm getting out of my funk.