Saturday, March 18, 2017

Time for another Big Drama Show. Gennedy Golovkin vs. Daniel Jacobs

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.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Is it time to invest in a Steven Stamkos Rookie Card?

Simple question - Should I buy a Steven Stamkos rookie card right now?

For the most part, values of hockey cards tend to stay fairly flat. While there might be a ton of fluctuation upon their release, they tend to find a level after a few months. Barring any career ending injuries or absolute overproduction of cards (Jaromir Jagr) a superstar player’s rookie card will slowly increase in value over time.

For the numerical break down read the rest of the post over at RawCharge.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

My 100th and possibly final Zistle Trade

So I missed my goal of completing 100 Zistle trades before the end of the year. It wasn't entirely my fault, there was about a month or so that the site wasn't accessible because they were “in the process of updating their SSL certificate”. Which is probably related to their recent purchase by Beckett. Well, recent as in 2016 is a recent year as compared to 2004.

Things aren't the same on the site anymore. Updates to sets aren't being posted, sets themselves aren't being posted at all (2017 Topps Baseball has been out for a week and it's not on the site) and users are dropping out because of all of the uncertainty.

There was an email blast/Facebook post by Zistle in November asking for feedback and comments while they were “reviewing the website and all of it's (sic) wonderful features”. At one point they replied to a comment saying that things once the holidays were over there would be an update.

Well, unless they're waiting for Valentine's Day, the holidays are over and still no update. So, even I, loyal since 2009 will start looking for other places to organize my collection. In the meantime I'll look for some older cards to help finish off sets and pick up random Orioles and Lightning cards while clearing out doubles.

I did finally get around to hitting the century mark last week in a small trade with user kjohnsonhp, a collector down in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

In exchange for some extra 2015 Topps I picked up the following new cards:

1990 Swell Baseball Greats Davey Johnson and Milt Pappas.

This is what happens when an update needs to be made to a set and no one is approving them. Both of these cards are listed as “Baltimore Orioles” cards. As you can see they are not. Johnson is repping his two seasons in Atlanta and Pappas his two seasons in Cincinnati. It is partially my fault for not clicking on the images, but hey, sometimes you get lazy.

1993 Hostess Cal Ripken, Jr.

This cards is...well it has a border on it. And his name. And a team logo. That's about it. Probably one of the least interesting card designs ever released. How about we flip it over and see if the back is any better.

Actually it is. Some color, a nice head shot and some basic stats.

1997 Pinnacle Main Cal Ripken Jr.

Another Iron Man card from the late 90s that I didn't have. There is a fairly large sized hole in my collection from 1994-1999 due to college (couldn't afford cards AND alcohol...I mean books...yeah books) so a lot of these cards are new to me.

At the point this card was released Ripken was 2381 games into his record 2,632 game streak and the Orioles were in the playoffs for the first time since his second year with the team. Ah 1997, the Armando Benitiz/Tony Fernandez game.

Who gives up a homerun to Tony Freakin' Fernandez to lose a playoff series? Oh look, it's Davey Johnson in the dugout. We've come full circle!

I'm in the process of checking out other organizing sites for my collection so that I'm prepared for the inevitable day when Beckett starts charging for Zistle. Anyone out there have any suggestions?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Steven Stamkos and the rookie card

There is a certain generation of sports fans that are rapidly approaching (or are firmly in the grip of) middle age. One of the shared characteristics of this demographic is that they were raised with the belief that sports cards could be an investment instead of something you flip against the wall, put in your bike spokes or wrap in rubber bands and stuff in a shoe box (oh the horror)...

Read the rest here....

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The State of the Blog 2017

So.  Quick question.  What’s been more active over the winter, this blog or the Baltimore Orioles front office?

The answer.

It’s a tie.

Now that we have the snarky opening out of the way, happy 2017 to all of those readers that I still have left.  Sorry to have left you all. I know you’ve missed the random, grammatically-challenged postings about hockey, trading cards and baseball.  No, really there was at least one baseball post last year (well, kind of about baseball)!

The good news is that there should be more baseball stuff this year.  I’m still writing about hockey over at Raw Charge, and  I don’t see that stopping for at least the next 89 days since I managed to talk myself into a marathon writing project (job security, baby!).  You’ll see an occasional link here when I managed to convince them that hockey cards and memorabilia are interesting to our readers.

As for the overall state of this blog, I am going to try and post at least weekly, more so once I finish binge watching Gilmore Girls (don’t judge me!) and it’s going to be a mix of things sports and randomness.  There may be some politics thrown in there as well.  I’m torn between the feeling that Mr. Trump is the worse person ever elected to be president of this country and the sense that he will be so ineffective once he pisses off everyone in Washington that it’s not worth even worrying about.  Of course, he could also be the one that brings actual nuclear war into being, but if that happens I really don’t have to care about upsetting readers now do I?

Speaking of readers, 2016 was the busiest year for this blog, despite the fact that I posted almost nothing during the last three months.  At the beginning of the year I always like to take a look and see what is garnering traffic.  Lately not much, but that’s on me.  I do love the fact that the leading search for my site is still: “Sidney Crosby shirtless”.  So thank you for that.

He’s also the recipient of the most popular postwhere I wrote about his return from one of his concussions. (Wow, great job by me with Tebow, Baltimore hero Dave Johnson and BizNasty2.0 references).  While it’s the most popular one, my favorite remains the one I wrote about Matt Cooke and Vinny Lecavalier.  Unfortunately, five years later I have to conclude that Vinny was never the same player after the surgery so yeah, I guess Cooke did destroy his career.

Looking back at some of those posts I wonder if I’ve gotten any better as a write.  I’m not sure I have.  I have become better about editing, not perfect but better.  I’ve found that when I write a lot or I write about stuff that I feel I “have” to write about it loses a little umph.  There are dozens of post that I wish I could re-write and erase the original from the digital world.  Even now with the Raw Charge stuff, every time I hit “submit for approval” I’m waiting for my editor to delete everything and curse me out.  (luckily it hasn’t happened yet).

I also notice that I use the phrase “unfortunately” a lot to start sentences.  Maybe it’s because I’ve had to write about a lot of bad teams over the years.  There are other crutches that I notice when I re-read old posts, but, hey I’m lazy and proud of it.

I am thankful for a lot of things that this blog has brought about.  First of all, the fact that it led to writing for Raw Charge, an actual real-life, site that people outside of my immediate family read.  So many thanks to John Fontana for offering me a chance and to Achairya for keeping me aboard after the regime change.

That promotion led me to an actual real life press pass for a professional sports team.  Granted the team is 2 hours away and I don’t get over there enough to truly take advantage of it, but it’s nice to know that this untrained, hack of a blogger was actually accepted into a press box.

Although my work schedule doesn’t allow me to cover it anymore, getting ringside press passes for local boxing events was awesome.  Being an accredited writer was never something I’d thought I’d be even when I was writing for the Saint Leo Monarch (#MonarchForever) back in college.

Many thanks to J.B. over at the Sports Card Blogroll for keeping me on the rolls even though I barely posted lately and when I did, most of the posts were not even about Sports Cards.  JB does a yeoman’s job of compiling the best writers about the hobby, please visit the site to find more bloggers that do a better job then a do talking about pieces of cardboard.

Also, for all of the people/readers I’ve met through this blog, thank you for the good times (and free hockey cards).  Y’all have been so kind over the years and I’m in debt to all of you.

Wow, this got to sounding like a farewell somehow.  This blog is not going anywhere.  Hopefully 2017 is as much fun in the sports world as 2016 was (could use a few less deaths, though). See you folks out there on the internets.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Lightning and 2016-17 Upper Deck Hockey Series One

Mid-November is a great time for hockey. The season has settled in and we start to find out what teams are good (Rangers) and what teams are bad (Canucks). Statistics start regressing to the norm (Auston Matthews is not scoring 328 goals) and we start knowing which rookies are going to stay (Jakob Chychrun) and which are going back to their junior team (Mathew Barzal).
It also means that Upper Deck is releasing the first series of its flagship base set. Other hockey card sets have already been released, most notable Upper Deck MVP and Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee (a moment to remind everyone that Upper Deck has the exclusive license to produce NHL-branded cards. Other companies can make cards, but can't feature the team names or logos).

read the rest here.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

From the Back of the Closet - a 1993-94 Tampa Bay Lightning Game Program

From time to time I’ll dig into the back of the closet and find some piece of Lightning memorabilia to feature. Today I’ll look at a program from the 1993-94 Tampa Bay Lightning season (the first season to be played in the Thunderdome). Apologies that some of the photos are cut off, the program was a bit awkward to manipulate in the scanner.

Read the rest here......