It's summer. The hockey writers are starting to pack up their cabins and return to the grind, but there is still a good couple of weeks until real news starts breaking. Until then we are left with finding different sources of inspiration. Today's inspiration? A hockey card. This hockey card in fact.
A 2013-14 Panini/Score First Goal insert featuring Alex Killorn. How did the copy writer describe the goal?
“Killorn was pushing the puck toward the Florida net late in the first period of a Feb. 16, 2013 game and had a split second to make a decision. He could’ve dropped it off to an open Vincent Lecavalier or pull the trigger himself. Killorn took the shot and got to celebrate his first career NHL goal.”
Is that how it actually happened? Read the rest over at Raw Charge.
Monday, August 21, 2017
Thursday, June 29, 2017
June is coming to an end and hockey season is over. So, with the exception of Free Agent Frenzy on July 1st, this infrequently updated website turns its eyes to baseball. Most notably, baseball being played by the Baltimore Orioles. If you’re a fan of offense, you should turn into the O’s every once in awhile.
Unfortunately for fans, the majority of the offense has been coming from their opponents. The O’s pitching staff….well it’s just not good. They recently went through a streak where they gave up five or more runs in 20 consecutive games. That’s asking a lot for an offense that has been one of the best over the last few seasons. Unfortunately they’ve dropped off their normal pace (in part due to some injuries) and the Orioles find themselves floundering around .500 (they are currently 4th in the AL East with a 38-39 record as of this being written).
Their best pitcher has been Dylan Bundy who has willed his way to 8 wins and is the only starter with an ERA under 4.00. While it’s nice that the former number one pick is emerging as the staff ace that was expected of him, there has been talk of backing off his number appearances as he continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery. He’s already pitched 99 innings this season which is just 10 innings shy of his career high which he reached last year. More Wade Miley and less Bundy doesn’t exactly bode well for the rest of the summer.
Enough about that. The real reason I started this post is to show some recent pickups for the Orioles collection. I was perusing Twitter a few weeks ago and @DubMentality mentioned that he was giving away some duplicates from a recent break of 2017 Topps Archives. No one had claimed his O’s cards so I, a total stranger, reached out to him and he kindly sent some cards along. A few days after sending him my address here is what arrived in my mailbox:
As you can see one of the designs Topps used this year is the always welcome 1960 set. One of my favorite Orioles stats is that Brooks, not exactly the fleetest of foots, is the all-time franchise leader in triples with 68. I guess playing the majority of his 2800+ career games in a cavernous Memorial Stadium will lead to more than a few three-base hits.
Adam Jones is the current active leader on the Orioles with 26. I don’t think he’s catching him.
Another 1960 design. “Cakes” is the franchise leader in wins with 268. Most of the wins came when starting pitchers actually earned them by going more than 5+ innings and hoping the bullpen would hold on to the lead. Despite a career beset by injuries, Palmer topped 300 innings in a season four times. He probably would have added a couple of more if it wasn’t for the next guy on the list…
Weaver and Palmer had a bit of antagonistic relationship. Despite that, they worked well enough together to lead the O’s during their greatest run of play, the mid 1960s to the early 1980s. During his 18 years of managing the Orioles, Weaver only had one losing season - his last. In 1986, without Palmer who had retired, the Earl of Baltimore went 73-89.
No we leap into current players. Trumbo is having a Mark Trumbo-type of season. He has 10 home runs and is hitting .255. The 162 game average over his 8-year career: 23 home runs and a .252 average. I’m sure fans would like to see him pick up the pace and get closer to the 47 home runs he hit last year, but without Chris Davis in the line up until after the all star break, he might not see too many great pitches to hit.
It’s hard to believe that Jones has been in the league for twelve seasons now, but that’s what happens when you get called up at the age of 18. Never really thought of as a power hitter in the same vein as Trumbo and Davis, Jones is currently 5th all time in franchise history in home runs with 235. With a few more solid seasons he could end up in the top three.
A switch to the 1992 Topps style. I always thought the 92 Topps set was a little underrated. It featured some of the best photos Topps every used for their base set even if the design itself was rather basic.
It’s been a rough season average-wise for the future of the franchise. He’s hitting a career-low .223 and has looked lost at the plate for long stretches of time. Still, he does have a team leading 15 home runs and is playing his normal sizzling defense. A few days off at the All-Star Break may be what he needs to turn the season around.
The card that made me reach out to Dub Mentality in the first place.
Look at all of that wonderful orange.
There aren’t many cards featuring Reggie in his brief stay with the Birds during the 1976 season. After all, he didn’t really want to be here and jumped ship as soon as he could following the season. Still, his one year in the orange and black was productive as he hit 27 home runs and drove in 96. The team finished second on the AL East, 10.5 games behind the Yankees and as soon as he could, Jackson joined the Orioles biggest rival.
Thank you to Dub Mentality - go give him a follow on Twitter (and send him your Ron Gant cards).
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
As I mentioned a few months ago, it’s time to pare down the collection. So I’ve been trolling other blogs and wantlists to see who needs some of the cardboard I’ve acquired over the last 30 years. Somehow (it might have been Twitter) I stumbled across CrazieJoe’s Card Corner. He’s in Canada. He likes the Toronto Maple Leafs. I happened to be sorting through some hockey at the time and noticed I had some cards on his wantlist. He had some cards I needed. It was a match.
It was also the first trade I completed through The Trading Card Database. With Zistle on life support, I’ve been searching for a new place to keep things organized. I had signed up at TTCD about three months ago, but hadn’t really entered any cards, mostly because I was dreading having to import my collection over and re-enter it by hand.
With Joe having his want/trade lists on TTCD I finally had a reason to invest some time playing around with the site. After a couple of days my initial review is...it’s ok. Zistle has a little better interface for organizing, but the trade function on TTCD is a little easier to use once you have your collection entered.
Enough about that, what goodies came my way from our neighbors to the north in exchange for a stack of Maple Leaf cards? How about some 26-year-old cardboard? That’s right, it’s 1991 Donruss. A set old enough now that it should be showing up as a “retro” insert set at some point. Among the 14 cards here are some highlights.
A Rated Rookie
Wes Chamberlin. As far as a prospect, Chamberlin never lived up to the hype that a Rated Rookie logo usually inspires. He lasted for five seasons and appeared in 385 games for the Phillies and Red Sox.
A Yankee Phenom
Kevin Maas. Before there was Aaron Judge there was Kevin Maas. A mid-season callup in 1990, the California native mashed 15 home runs in his first 133 at-bats. He ended the season with 21 home runs and enough votes to finish second in Rookie of the Year voting behind Sandy Alomar, Jr despite not making his major league debut until June 29th.
A Former Oriole
Ben McDonald. The Orioles drafted him first overall in 1989 (their reward for the disastrous 1988) and he shot through the minor leagues. He actually debuted the same year he was drafted as he was part of the September call-ups during Baltimore’s improbable pennant race. He struggled out of the bullpen, giving up runs in each of his first four appearances.
Due to injuries and mismanagement by the ballclub, he never materialized into the dominant starter the O’s had hoped he would be. After 7 up-and-down seasons in Baltimore he left as a free agent and ended his major league career in Milwaukee. His relaxing Louisiana drawl can now be heard occasionally on Orioles broadcasts as he sometimes fills in as an analyst.
So why 1991 Donruss? Because it’s time to finish off some of my childhood sets. I’ve knocked out 1983 Topps, pretty sure I’m done or close to being done with 1991 Topps so it’s time to turn my attention to some other sets from that era. It was when I was collecting the heaviest so I shouldn’t have too many...OH MY GOD HOW DO I NEED 300 CARDS FROM THIS SET?
Well...that makes it a little more challenging, but I’m off to a decent start and I see these cards at shows all the time in the cheap boxes. It shouldn’t be hard to knock it out.
Check the wantlist on the right side of this screen and if you’re digging for baseball cards from the same era just let me know. (My apologies to the hockey collectors, those cards are taking quite a bit longer to organize than I anticipated).
Thanks for the trade Joe, your cards are making their way up to Canada.
Thursday, May 4, 2017
Boxing is a wonderful sport to cover for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons - plenty of time to find (or create) a narrative for the big matches. Headline contests are usually announced months before they happen so that the two contestants have enough time to recover from their previous bouts and to prepare for their new opponents. It also allows the scribes following the fights plenty of time to find their angles on how to cover a fight.
Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Jacobs- Unstoppable Knockout Machine vs. Underdog Cancer Survivor.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. - Popular Man of the People's Champion vs. Arrogant Undefeated Pound For Pound Champion
Cassius Clay vs. Sonny Liston - The Loudmouth Showman vs. The Angriest Man in the World.
Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko - The Next Great Heavyweight vs. The Aging Great Heavyweight.
Many times those narratives are true, but often they are built to sell tickets. After all, who wants to see two guys who like each other fight. Based on all of Timothy Bradley’s pay-per-views - no one.
Fights are more interesting when there is a story driving them. Luckily, this weekend there is a tailor-made storyline. On May 6th, in Las Vegas, the battle for the soul of the Mexican boxing fan will be fought. At least that’s what the promoters and writers would lead fans to believe.
In one corner, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., progeny and prisoner of his father’s legacy. A talented boxer who mixes flashes of brilliance with periods of sullen indifference. While gifted he seemingly lacks the one thing we’re told is most revered in Mexican boxers - the warrior spirit.
In the other corner, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. A beast of a middleweight. A powerful boxer who throws all his punches with the illest of intentions. He stands in front of his opponents and slugs it out. There is little obvious finesse in his game, just raw power. Yet, while he demolishes all of those placed in front of him, there is a sense of artifice surrounding him. His detractors claim that he is a TV champion, racking up knockouts and wins against has-beens and never-will-bes while avoiding the one true test - Golovkin.
These are the two men that HBO, Golden Boy Productions, and Corona want us to believe are fighting to become the next great Mexican champion, to take up the mantle of Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera, Carlos Zarate and Julio Cesar Chavez, Sr. Is it fair to either fighter stepping into the ring to have that kind of pressure added to the fight? Was the fight between Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter a contest for the legacy of Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns?
No. Then again, not much about boxing is fair. If they want to cash the multi-million dollar paychecks (Alvarez is reported to be guaranteed $8 million and Chavez, Jr. $2.5 million) that they will be earning for the fight, then they have to take on a little extra pressure. The questions is, will it matter to boxing fans, Mexican or otherwise?
Chavez, Jr. has much more to gain from this fight than Alvarez. With a victory he can shed the lackadaisical label that has followed him over his 54-fight professional career. Gone would be the questions about his training habits or his failed drug tests.* Even a long, bloody decision loss could gain him supporters. As long as he ends the fight on his feet and doesn’t dance around the ring for 36 minutes he will gain respect, much in the same way a too-young Alvarez gained respect in his loss to Mayweather, Jr.
On the other hand Alvarez, he of the cinnamon-tinged hair and Sylvester Stallone commercials is in a bit of a bind. While this is a good sell for the Cinco de Mayo weekend, it’s not the fight that people really want to see. They want Canelo vs. Triple-G. Especially now that Golovkin struggled, in the sense that he didn’t render Jacobs incapable of movement for 10 seconds, in his last fight.That tint of vulnerability makes for an intriguing future match-up. That’s the mega-fight that will get the ever-elusive casual sports fan to plunk down $70 for a pay-per-view.
So, while another notch on his championship belt and the subjective King of Mexican Boxing label would be nice, he stands to lose much, much more than this challenger. A loss would most likely delay, if not completely, derail negotiations for an Alvarez/Golovkin fight, it would it also prove all of his doubters right. He’d be unmasked as a made-for-pay-per-view matinee idol. Or at least that’s how it would be spun.
Oddly enough, Alvarez’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya faced the same problem almost 20 years ago. The Golden Boy faced many of the same criticisms that Alvarez does today. It took two bloody beatings of Julio Cesar Chavez, Sr. to earn some credibility from a lot of Mexican fans.
Adding to the storyline is the subplot that neither fighter particularly cares for the other. Alvarez feels that Chavez, Jr. has disrespected him his entire career (see this post from 2011 where Chavez, Jr. basically says that Alvarez hasn’t earned his respect). Promoter Oscar De La Hoya has done more than his fair share of selling the animosity. For example, he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal,
““There’s animosity toward each other. I can’t really explain it. There’s a lot of pride at stake. They have many years around each other, and you have to go back. Something happened. I don’t know if Chavez triggered it or Canelo triggered it, but they don’t like each other. They genuinely despise each other.”
If there is actual substance behind all of this talk, it could make for a great fight. Pride is a powerful motivator. Fighting for something other than a paycheck (which both fighters briefly agreed to bet on the outcome before cooler heads nixed the idea) can keep a fighter going when there is nothing left. The thought of earning the mantel of his father’s legacy could drive Chavez, Jr. to keep going when normally he would throw in the towel.
Could it happen? Of course. Despite being the heavy favorite, it will be one of the few times that Alvarez won’t be the bigger man in the ring. Chavez has brought in legendary trainer Nacho Beristain to change his preparation. Reports out of his camp are that he is in great shape and has been dedicated to training, something that hasn’t always been the case.
His weight issues in the past have been such a problem in the past that for this fight a clause was inserted in the contract fining either fighter a million dollars for each pound they are over the 164 ½ catchweight.The public seems to think he has a chance, he started as 10-1 underdog and has seen the odds creep into his favor as he was 6-1 underdog as of Wednesday.
Alvarez doesn’t exactly dodge a lot of punches. He walks through punches in order to land his own, relying on his power to win out during the exchanges. That works when fighting smaller opponents, but he’s going to be in a ring with a fighter who may weigh up to 175 or 180 pounds on the day of the fight.
Chavez Jr., will be the one to dictate the style of the fight. Does he sacrifice his reach advantage to get in close and wear Alvarez down by leaning on him? Or does he keep his distance, force the champion to chase him and then pepper him with counter-rights and left-hooks to the body? Either way it should be a good fight style-wise. Neither man is afraid to stand in the middle of the ring and slug it out. The only thing that could throw a wrench into the match is Chavez, Jr.’s mental state.
Will he be the fighter who absorbed a beating from Sergio Martinez for 11 rounds before almost pulling off a miracle comeback by knocking down the Argentine in the final round? Or will it be the Chavez who quit on his stool after being knocked around by Andrzej Fonfara. That’s the story that’s waiting to be written, and it won’t be known until the first punches are landed on Saturday night.
*Following his 2013 loss to Sergio Martinez he was fined and suspended for nine months after testing positive for marijuana. Which, honestly, is one of the dumbest things that boxing tests for. If any athletes should be allowed to smoke weed it’s boxers and football players)
Friday, April 14, 2017
As part of the burgeoning quest to downsize my collection I started trolling wantlists for cards that would match up. Early in my search I noticed Bo over at Baseball Cards Come to Life needed some 2008 Upper Deck I had some duplicates from that set. In fact I had quite a few. So I sent him an email, he replied with an email and then I sent an email, so on and so forth. I managed to put a decent size package together and thought, “Great - actually going to clean some cards out and get some space”.
Well, that kind of happened.
Bo happened to go out of his way to knock out almost my entire 2010 Topps Wantlist and throw in some additional cards as well. So instead of subtracting cards from my collection, I actually added. Whoops. The good news is that since I already had a binder started for 2010 Topps, I still reduced the actual space my cards take up (how’s that for a justification?).
Here is a random sample of what came my way.
Like I said there were a generous amount of cards. In fact, I think the only ones he didn't send were ones I didn't realize I needed until I started to put the cards in the binder. My collation can be off sometimes.
Eddie Murray Personal Collection Needs
There were a couple of Dodgers-era Murray's as well, but why show them when I have Eddie in the sweet Orange and Black? Also notice the reverse batting glove use on the top photo. Eddie is signing at The National this year. I might buy an autograph ticket just to ask him why the hell he did that.
There was a good smattering of series represented, from Heritage to Opening Day and Upper Deck. The combination of the 1989 design and "Fruit Loops" with his big ol' wad of chewing tobacco made it a clear choice to use for the photo. Normally the framing of vertical photos isn't that great, but this one is pretty well laid out.
Bo also took care of my 1992 Topps needs. I'm pretty sure I can officially mark that set as complete so if there is anyone that needs cards from that set, feel free to drop me a line. Also, the same goes for 2008 Topps Allen and Ginter. If there is anyone looking to complete that nice set, let me know.
Thanks for reading.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
So, recently I took a little trip down to Florida. While it was nice to leave the cold, gray Chicago behind for a few days the trip wasn’t solely to soak up some sunshine. After roughly seven years, it was time to take my collection out of my in-laws (saints) closet and bring it up to the Windy City.
The Duchess (also a saint) agreed to fly down with me and help drive 100,000 pieces of cardboard back to our cramped apartment. I did kind of bribe her with the promise of stopping in Nashville for a couple of days. Believe it or not, after 13 years together this would be our first roadtrip over 6 hours together. That might be one of the reasons we’re still together.
On a Friday morning we left cold, slushy Chicago behind and hopped a flight to Tampa. Once there we picked up our sweet ride for the trip.
When you’re moving a couple hundred pounds of hockey cards, baseball cards and random stuff (a trash can! a toolbox!) almost 1,200 miles you don’t get a convertible no matter how nice the weather might be.
After a quick lunch by the water, one of the things I miss most from the Tampa Bay Area, we were off to the in-laws. It didn’t take long to load it up the next day. When there are four people and no stairs involved things move pretty quickly. With the van loaded, it would proceed to sit in the driveway for the next day or so. I borrowed the in-laws car to go to the Lightning game with a friend (something else that I miss mightily) and then, the next day, we were off at the literal crack of dawn.
I won’t bore you with the details of the road trip with this post, suffice it to say, it’s a long way from Tampa to Nashville and there isn’t much to look at. Despite my mother-in-law’s concern, no one broke into the van while it sat in a public garage for two days. Or if they did, they realized stealing 40 boxes of baseball cards would be the dumbest crime in the history of petty theft.
The drive from Nashville to Chicago wasn’t much more exciting, although the windmill farms in Indiana are impressive. We survived the trip (podcasts are a wonderful thing) and managed to get the cards up to the third floor without getting a parking ticket.
The point of this post is to let you collectors know that I have my collection back. That means I am ready to deal. That’s right it’s trading time, bitches! At some point we’re going to move again and it would be cruel to make the movers carry all of these cards down three flights of stairs. I figure I can cut the collection in half just by dealing my baseball duplicates and cutting my hockey collection down to what it was originally intended to be - Lightning only.
So this is your chance to fill some gaps in your collection. If you have baseball needs from the mid-80s to 2010 or hockey needs from the junk era (PRO SET, PRO SET PRO SET) shoot me a line. I’ll check your want lists out and we can work something out. I’m not looking for a lot in return. After all the purpose is to reduce the collection not just swap cards in and out.
I already have one deal in the mail and a couple of feelers out. I will do my best to keep a running track of the number of cards that are shipped out. I don’t think I’ll load anything new on Zistle, the rumors of its demise are swirling once again, and I don’t feel like loading that many cards into a new site one by one.
So, it’s time to go old school. Hunting through want lists and and sending out emails. It’s the way I traded when I first started blogging. Look for more card related posts here as well. If I stumble across some card I haven’t seen in a decade I might post about it. For instance, I forgot how nice some of the cards in the 2008 Upper Deck set looked. Trades I’ll definitely post about.
The 91 Days of Stamkos project over at Raw Charge is winding to an end, and I’ll need to something to write about on a daily basis. I think The Duchess enjoys the fact that I’m sitting at a desk doing something productive as opposed to binge watching Bones during the day. And I KNOW that she likes seeing cards go out the door as opposed to coming in.
I’m not setting any specific goals for trades, just want to reduce and make people happy. I’ll be listing a few cards on eBay, but really there really aren’t many big ticket cards sitting in the boxes in our living room.
If you’re interested in trading, leave a comment, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or hit me up on Twitter. Thanks for your help!
Saturday, March 18, 2017
|Photo by Ed Mulholland/K2|
At a certain point in the fight, Gennady Golovkin’s opponents have to make a choice. It’s not whether to attack or defend, to crowd him or to keep your distance. Should I attack with a jab or try and counter with a straight right? The choice is much simpler, which punch do I want to hit me? It’s a question that really doesn’t have an answer.
A left hook from the Kazakhstan-fighter doesn’t just slow a boxer down or look nice on TV. It ends fights. The first time it hits you, it takes your breath away and you know if he lands it again you’re in trouble. So you drop your right hand a little and turn away from that killer left hand. It doesn’t matter, the next thing you don’t see is a right hand crashing against your temple and suddenly you’re on the canvas with an old man covered in your blood counting to ten.
Is Golovkin a perfect fighter? No. He has his flaws. His defense, either by style or choice leaves a lot to be desired. There seems to be a point in each fight, usually in the first couple of rounds, where his opponent lands a clean shot. If Golovkin decides it won’t hurt him, he won’t bother blocking future punches. Instead he bets that he can dish out harder than the other guy in the exchanges.
If the punch does register on his warning scale, he’ll proceed with a bit more caution. Not much,but a subtle head movement or a quick shuffle of the feet to avoid the punch and then he counters. He could be a better defensive boxer, but where is the fun, where is the entertainment in that? American boxing fans want to see action, so Golovkin allows a few punches to sneak through before dishing out his own punishment.
It’s a good strategy to employ until you run into a boxer with one-punch power. In his 36 fights, he’s yet to find that opponent. Could Jacobs be the one?
Jacobs will be interesting opponent for Gennady Golovkin. The New York native has power, it’s been 15 straight fights since a judge’s scorecard came into play for him. His pummeling of Peter Quillin in 2015 was one of the worst first round beatings dished out that didn’t end with someone on their back (the ref stopped the fight after a savage Jacobs’ right-hand left “Kid Chocolate” stumbling around the ring”).
If the victory over Quillin showed what he can do when he’s unleashing a whirlwind of punches, his second victory over Sergio Mora showed Jacobs as the relentless terrorizer, almost a carbon copy of Golovkin. He stalked his prey, pointedly dishing out power punch after power punch, knocking Mora down time after time until the corner had seen enough.
Besides, after beating bone cancer and being told that he should never box again, what’s the big deal about an unassuming 165 lb. boxer? The affable Brooklyn-born boxer says he doesn’t fear Golovkin. After all, if Kell Brock can land combinations on GGG, why can’t Jacobs. Unlike Brock, Jacobs has power behind those punches. Possibly even enough force to stop the seemingly unstoppable middleweight terror.
The problem, and the reason he’s an 8-1 underdog, is even in his victories he’s shown a tendency to get hit. After knocking Mora down in their first fight, Jacobs eagerly walked into a stiff right that sent him to the canvas. Part of Golovkin’s plan is to give an opponent enough hope to make a mistake. Let him land a couple of punches, show him an opening and then counter viciously.
His knockout of Daniel Geale is a perfect example.
Geale was scoring with some punches throughout the round. Right before the highlight started he clipped Golovkin with an uppercut. Then Geale throws a right-hand that lands flush on Golovkin’s jaw. The Kazakh absorbs it and drops his opponent with a short right of his own.
Fighters don’t shrug off Golovkin punches. They can spend all three months prior to the fight talking about how they’re not scared of him, or that there is no fear in their heart, but until they stand in that ring and take a punch they have no idea what they’re getting into. None of his opponents have ever claimed that Golovkin beat them with a “lucky” punch
Whatever happens tonight it is unlikely that the fight is going the distance. The question for Jacobs is, can he absorb enough punishment to do damage to Golovkin. If he can walk through some of the thundering left hooks, he has a puncher’s chance of winning. Unfortunately, that is a mighty big if.