Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry (fake) Mailbag Day!

I hope everyone is enjoying their Wednesday. If you celebrate Christmas than Merry Christmas. If you don't, well Happy Wednesday to you.  For today's post I figured I'd open the mailbag and go through some of the letters that have piled up over the year.  Of course, no one mails me letters so these are all 100% fictional, but it gives me space to write about things I don't want to commit a whole post to.  Enjoy.

P.S. I'm writing this on an iPad, and don't feel like figuring out how to scroll through pages to fix the errors.  Sorry bout that.

"Jemile Weeks is going to be an all-star! Mark my words!"
                     -- Clarence, South Side Chicago

No closer, no second baseman, third baseman with a bad knee and a starting rotation that is anchored by Miguel Gonzalez.  Heck of an off-season for the Birds.  You know what? I don't care. Sometimes standing pat is not a bad thing. Especially when the alternative is overpaying in a weak free agent market.

I like Jim Johnson. I don't like Jim Johnson at $10 million.  I don't like any closer at $10 million unless they're named Mariano. If I had my druthers, Brian Matusz gets the nod as closer and the O's use that money on Chris Davis.

Brian Roberts going to New York is funny, because who else is going to overpay for an overaged, often-injured second baseman? Roberts will probably get into the O's hall-of-fame at some point. He was really, really good during some really, really bad times.  Right now, in 2013, he's not the same. Bring in a placeholder like Weeks for now until Jonathon Schoop is ready and see if he's the real deal (hint, I think he is).

I do like some of the moves they made in the off-season to strengthen the bullpen even without Grant Balfour. Ryan Webb will fit in nicely and David Lough is a younger version Nate McClouth. Is it enough to keep pace in the AL East? Probably not, but weren't we saying the same thing last year?

"So much for that 7-9 prediction for the Ravens. Way to be wrong!"
            --- The Three Readers I picked up back at the beginning of the season

Hey, this is one of my better years. I was a 61-yard field goal miss from being right on track with e record. It has been a rough year for my Ravens watching. The one Sunday I had off of work was their bye week. Other than that I've been at work during every game they played.

As for the team - they are what I pretty much thought they were. A young defense gave away a couple of games (Chicago and Cleveland), the offensive line isn't good and that hurt the running game. Joe Flacco has been at his Joe Flacco-iest, which means a good quarterback with great moments who lost all of his security blankets and had trouble connecting with new receivers.

As much as people hate the term, they are rebuilding. They are trying to rebuild while staying competitive, which is hard to do in the NFL. Should they miss the playoffs I'm sure the rabbled masses will call for wholesale changes and new quarterbacks, but if they stay the course and work on improving the offensive line, they'll be back on top in no time.

"Justin Tucker, b&itches!"
                                  -- Kris S., Baltimore

Thanks for writing in, sis. Ah yes, the legend that is Justin Tucker.  I do have Tucker and the Miami defense to thank for making it into the playoffs in one of my leagues. Three teams - three playoffs made - three first round exits.

Much like the Ravens it was a bit of a struggle for me this year. Injuries and bad drafting left me with tremendously unexciting teams. At one point I looked at my starting line-up and realized there wasnt a single player that i drafted starting. Yes, I would be better off autodrafting.

I'm at the point where taking a year off seems like a good idea, but I'm sure that by the end of the summer my mind will change again.  So I'm basically an aging veteran pondering whether or not to hang up the cleats.

"You're Twitter bio says you're a Liverpool fan.  Yet you never mention them, ever! Top of the table!"
                 -- Steven G., Anfield Trainer's Table

What can I say? I'm an Ameican soccer fan. Too many things come before it. Once football is over I'll probably pay a bit more attention.  However, I can't make any promises. Between late shifts at work, early as sin start times and not having cable makes it hard to follow the EPL. Funny how scoring a bunch of goals and winning games put that "Suarez wants out" talk on the back burner.

"You've pulled some nice cards this year. Any front runners for Card of the Year?"
             -- Justin G., Chicago

Even in a fake mailbag I have to resort to submitting my own questions. Oh well, that's what happens when you take three weeks off between posts. The Hopeful Chase Card of the Year will return sometime in the next week.  Heck, there is even discussion of a new induction into The Wasteland Hall of Fame.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Oh My Goodness I'm Writing About a Trade (Non Jim Johnson related)

As 2013 draws to a close I realize I haven't been very good about posting trades.  It's not because I haven't been trading, actually it's quite the opposite.  So I guess it's just that I'm lazy.  Yup that's it. Laziness.

If you remember (and I know you do!) I bought a random box of hockey cards to break a couple of months ago.  That box happened to be 2011-12 Panini Rookie Anthology. In the box there was a really nice Gabriel Landeskog auto/relic that I wasn't sure what I would do with it. Sure I could put it on eBay and get a couple bucks for it. Or I could hold on to it until an Avalanche fan came strolling by with an offer.

Lucky for me I didn't have to wait long.  Matt over at Cardboard Conundrum sent me an email saying that he was interested in the card and if I could make him an offer we could probably work something out.  Needless to say we worked something out.

Let me say something about being a Lightning fan.  There aren't many of us in this hobby. That means I get the pick of the litter when making trades with folks.  Matt had a pretty nice selection to chose from and in the end we settled on a 2-for-1 deal that netted me the below cards:

2011-12 Panini Titanium Game-Worn Gear Vincent Lecavalier

The photo makes it look like Vinny is wearing dress pants.

Yup, still collecting cards of Vinny4. At least cards of him in a Lightning uniform.  I like the layout of the card with the exception of the fabricated metal strips that border the top and bottom of the card.  It would be fine without it, but I'm guessing Panini needed to drive home the "Titanium" theme.

2012-13 Panini Limited Phenom JT Brown numbered 257/499

J.T. looks like he's photobombing his own card

Anytime you can start a personal collection of a 4th line winger you have to do it, right?  Normally I'm not a fan of manufactured swatches, but this is a bit of an exception.  The blue ink and blue Lightning "Flash" logo show up nicely on the white background.

Brown has actually paired quite well with Nate Thompson on Tampa's 4th line.  He's used his speed and hustle to create a little chaos on the forecheck and that line has actually scored some goals in recent games.  Something that the Bolts need with Stamkos out for a couple of more months (or weeks, or days since he is apparently a cyborg).

Matt, thank you for the trade!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanks-Redemption-Giving Day

So what am I doing posting about cards on Thanksgiving? You know, the day where we’re supposed to turn the computers off, put the phones down and pass out on the couch during football with family?  Well, The Duchess is in Florida and I’m still in Chicago eating leftover pizza.  Welcome to the hospitality business!
After a long day at work (one in which I managed to talk my way into a six day work week with two overnight shifts) I figured a nice night with the Ravens game streamed online and a little blogging was the best way to spend the night.

How long has it been since I posted?  Well, Steven Stamkos has had surgery on his leg, left the hospital, ditched the crutches, ditched the protective boot and walked out onto the ice with barely a limp to present Marty St. Louis with a special gift in recognition of the captain’s 1000th game played.  It doesn’t appear that Stammer has been rehabbing outside.  Is it possible that he is getting paler?

We’re not here to talk about hockey, though. We’re here to talk baseball cards and the bane of the collector’s world – redemptions.  In my history I’ve had pretty decent luck with redemptions; I don’t think I’ve waited more than 3 months in the past for the handful of cards that Topps or Upper Deck have sent out for me.

That was until September of 2012.  Remember that month?  The O’s were driving for the pennant and the Ravens were kicking off their Super Bowl winning season.  I was walking around half-awake due to the three overnight shifts a week I was working and the NHL was busy pissing off all of the fans they had left after the last lockout.

I was celebrating my birthday (and about to get married) when the Duchess’ parents bought me a box of Topps 2012 baseball.  It was a fun rip, nothing overly exciting except for one card – a Nolan Ryan Golden Greats auto/relic card. Or at least that’s what the redemption card said it would be.

Awesome.  I don’t necessarily collect Ryan cards, but it’s always nice to pick up a Hall of Famer’s autograph (especially when it comes to working out trades). So I submitted the online code and went on with my life (got married).  Then I promptly forgot about the redemption.

Over the next year or so I would read a post about someone redeeming a card and then remember I had a card sitting out there. After taking 15 minutes to remember which password I used for the site I would log on and find the always infuriating, “Pending” in the status field.

Since I basically got the card for free and I’m tremendously lazy I let a year go by before doing anything about it. Last September I dug up the customer service line and gave them a jingle. After about 15 minutes on line (8 of those with David Wright telling me that Topps is on Facebook) I spoke with a rep who looked up the real status of the card.

Apparently Topps is having an issue getting an authentic jersey to cut up for cards. I guess they’re not having any luck on their eBay auctions.  I’m a flexible guy so I told them I would roll the dice and take the replacement of “equal value”.  No problem, the chap on the other line said, I should see my card in 4-6 weeks.

Needless to say I didn’t.

So, another call to Topps.  At first they asked if I wanted a replacement. I told them I already set that up. They said, “oh yeah” and gave me a tracking number. I tracked it the number and it said, “Return to Sender.”


So, what had happened was…..

In October I had received a notice that the post office wasn’t able to deliver something to me.  No information other than the tag number.  I set up a redeliver and waived the signature needed.  Put the card out so the mailman could pick it up and then went the extra step to set up an online redelivery confirmation as well. I even saved the email confirmation.

Promptly forgot about it.

For some reason the post office didn’t get either notice so they were waiting for me to pick it up at their location. The location that is conveniently open from 9am to 5pm during the week.  Otherwise known as the same hours that I work (hence the reason I wanted it redelivered).

After 30 days they sent it back to Topps.  I noticed the package was at one of their sorting facilities in Pennsylvania so I called the United Postal Service to see if they could route it back to me.

I will never (EVVVVVVVEEEERRRR) do that again. I can’t stress that enough. If you’re ever in a situation where you have to call the postal service or not get something delivered – give up on the

On hold for 15 minutes.  The first agent said no problem let me get you to that department.  Which is apparently code for hanging up on me.

Called back, waited on hold for another 25 minutes and got through to someone who basically told me I was short on luck. She kept asking me why I didn’t pick it up, I kept telling her because I had set up redelivery. She asked for the confirmation on the redelivery. I gave it to her. She said that number didn’t “exist”.  I told her I could forward her the email showing that it did indeed exist. She declined and asked if I wanted to open a complaint.  I asked if that would help me get my package re-routed to me.  She said no.

I thanked her and asked to speak to a supervisor.  She connected me.  The supervisor gave me the same story and said it was too late to re-route. I kept pointing out that it was in their facility, surely in this day in age she could contact someone there and have it sent back to me. She said no and said that if I had just picked it up we wouldn’t be having this conversation so it was basically my fault. 

I hung up on her.  However, before I hung up on her I may have uttered a few curse words. Maybe I pointed out that this kind of service is why they may be going out of business. Maybe I said something about my only mistake was trusting tem to do their job. That might have all happened before I hung up on her. (Spoiler – all of that happened.  Especially the cursing.)

One thing about the digital/cell phone era is that hanging up on someone is nowhere near as satisfying as it used to be. Clicking a button has nothing on slamming a handset down.

I calmed down a bit and called Topps again.  I spoke with a nice gentleman named Vincent (I think) who said he would set up a note to return to sender the return to sender once it hit their receiving warehouse. He did mention that they couldn’t waive the signature fee due to the “value” of what they were sending out.  That made me giddy.

About two weeks later I received a call on my cell phone (which is linked to the call box outside of my apartment) and a delivery guy said he had something to drop off.  I said go ahead (thinking it was some stuff The Duchess had ordered online) and once again forgot about it.  When I got home there was a lovely padded envelope waiting for me containing not one, but TWO cards.
And here they are:

A Topps Golden Greats Joe DiMaggio relic card numbered 10/10
A Museum Collection on-card Autograph of Nolan Ryan numbered 6/25

Umm I would say that was of equal value. (Worth reading the 1200 words it took to get to the payoff, eh?) 
So Topps I take back whatever I said on Twitter that made you block me. Your customer service did a good job of taking care of me as a consumer.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bad Day In Boston

So how about that Gennady Golovkin?  That’s the big story in sports since the last time I posted right?  Of course not, the big news is Steven Stamkos and his now surgically-repaired right tibia. It’s been three days since Stamkos broke his leg in Boston and I think I am know ready to process it.

I found out about the injury in a truly 21st century way.  I was at work, stuck behind a computer doing mindless data entry work (the type of work that I got into the hospitality business to avoid) when my cell phone blew up.  Not with phone calls, but with Twitter notifications, texts and e-mails.  I immediately gave myself a 15-minute break (a perk of being a “leader”) and read through my timeline.

First e-mail:  “Don’t jump!” from Scooter

First text: “Stamkos stretchered off the ice. Doesn’t look good.” From Link

First tweet: “Suspected broken tibia for Stamkos.” From various twitter posts and re-tweets

First Justin G. reaction: “F*ckity-f*ck-f*ck”

Oddly enough my first thought wasn’t about how much the Lightning would miss him (that was my third thought). Nor was it how much my fantasy hockey team would miss him (second thought). My first thought was, “Dang. I feel really bad for the kid.”

For the past four seasons Stamkos has been the best goal-scorer in the NHL.  He might not have been the best overall player, but by far the best pure scorer of goals.  We, as Lightning fans, were happy to have him, happy to be able to watch him play 81 times a season.

This season he had turned it up a notch. With 14 goals and 23 points through 17 games he was on pace for his best season ever. Seventy goals was a distinct possibility despite the fact that he didn’t score his first until the fourth game of the season.  The goals he was scoring were from all over the ice.  Deflections, rebounds, snipes from the circle and crazy, toe-drag wristers were all going in for him.

He was more aggressive on the ice, charging into the offensive zone with the puck often going one-on-one or even one-on-two against the defense.  He was shooting the puck instead of deferring and 23% of the time he got the puck on net, the play ended with the goalie digging it out from behind him.  

So I feel bad for him as a player.  At 23-years-old he’s entering into what should be the prime of his career and now the progress on hold.  I’m not worried about what level he is going to come back.  As gruesome as they are at a time, broken bones tend to be easier to overcome than pulled muscles or torn tendons.

If anything, the team is going to have to have the Markham-native slow down in his rehab. I’m sure he’s already spoken with his offseason workout guru, Gary Roberts, and they have a plan for getting him back on the ice. Stamkos’ is one of the hardest working players off the ice and he will be motivated to get back as soon as possible.  Whispers of him making it back in time for the Olympics are already making the rounds, which would put him back in a Lightning uniform towards the end of February, in time for a playoff run.

General Manager (of the Lightning AND Team Canada) Steve Yzerman is already on record stating that he is not going to rush the dynamic forward back.  He doesn’t seem the type of guy to succumb to pressure from outside influences so I doubt the Canadian media will force him to change his mind.  Luckily for that nation they’re quite deep in the center position.

The Lightning, not so much.  However, this is why he stockpiled young offense talent over the last few years.  Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn had more than 20 minutes of ice time in the Lightning’s 2-1 overtime win against Montreal on Tuesday.  A lot will be asked from those two, as well as Valterri Filppula, over the next three months as it is unlikely that Mr. Yzerman will go outside of the organization for help. 

Lightning fans that have been around for more than a decade might remember a dark day (actually it was probably sunny and mild in Tampa) in January 2002 when a rookie defenseman for the Pittsburgh Penguin named Josef Melichar shoved a young Marty St. Louis into the boards and the diminutive forward suffered a broken fibula.  He recovered quite well from that I would say.

So I am not worried about how Stamkos will perform when he returns, whether it is in February or October of 2014. The injury does, however, open him up to a nice “what if” discussion.  It’s a discussion I’ve gotten into with Link in regards to Sidney Crosby. I’ve speculated that Crosby might be the greatest “what if” athlete of the early 21st century.  As in, what would his career look like if he hadn’t missed so much time over the last few years because of his injuries? Could he have challenged for 600 goals? Could he have been the 2nd best scorer of all time?  Even if he plays at a hall-of-fame level for the next 10 years there will still be the 60-70 game gap in his career when he was sitting in a dark room pondering his future and not on the ices scoring goals.

While it’s not on the same level, as a broken leg shouldn’t linger like a concussion, there will be this gap in Steven Stamkos’ career.  The questions will be there – could he have won his third Richard trophy? Could he have won his first Art Ross or Hart trophy? And the big one – could he have hit the magical 70 goal mark (I think he had a better shot than Alex Steen).

That’s what I take away from the Stamkos injury (that and nothing good happens in Boston). Also, the outpouring of support from all around the league for him was truly great to see.  If there is any player in the league that is universally liked by fans of all teams it is Stamkos. Probably because the Lightning have no natural rival, thus no fan base that is predisposed to not like players on the team, the injury garnered few if any mean spirited comments on the articles posted about him.  That’s really nice to see.

Stamkos will be back and, hopefully like Obi Wan he’ll be more powerful than we can possible imagine, sooner than we know.  The Lightning will adjust (In Ben Bishop We Trust) and hopefully stay in contention till then.  Sadly, I don’t think the “Then You Feel Shame” squad will be able to survive, but my fantasy worries are low in the grand scheme of things.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Boxing Proves It Is A Brutal Sport, Again

I don’t know when I first started watching boxing, probably sometime in college if my somewhat hazy memory is correct. I know as a kid I wasn’t into it.  My dad didn’t drag me to fights, nor did we watch much boxing on TV.

If I had to give anyone credit it would probably be Saint Leo Mike and Link. My first boxing memory (again a bit hazy) involves a Saturday night trip to the Tampa Jai Alai fronton for a Julio Cesar Chavez fight.  Thanks to BoxRec I can see the fight was against Meldrick Taylor.  As four white college kids we wisely joined in the “Viva Chavez” cheers from the largely Hispanic crowd (including a Cuban who explained the wonderful sport of jai alai to me). 

My second memory involved college kids crowded around a 13-inch color TV that somehow produced a fuzzy, but clear enough to watch showing of George Foreman beating Michael Moorer.

My first boxing argument was with Link’s freshman roommate about whether Muhammad Ali was a slugger or more of a cagey boxer.  My nascent view, based only on the iconic photo of Ali standing triumphantly over a fallen Liston, was that Ali was more about knockouts than boxing. It wasn’t until much later, after reading about and watching his mastery of the ring did I realize that Anthony might have had more of a valid argument than I was willing to concede.

Post college I was lucky enough to live in an area that was enjoying a rather successful run in professional boxing.  A young Antonio Tarver and Ronald “Winky” Wright were bringing pride to the Tampa Bay area while Roy Jones, Jr. bought a world title fight to the Ice Palace.

Winky didn't block ALL punches thrown his way. Sidenote -  I once saw him in the mall holding his wife/girlfriend's purse

I do, however, know the exact fight that turned me from a casual boxing observer to the type of fan that pays for HBO not for the movies, but for the fights (this was before they became known for their Sunday night programming.  Yes I’m old). I wish I could say it was some obscure, undercard fight between two fighters who had one great fight and then were never heard from again so I could establish my hipster boxing credentials. Alas, it was one of the most popular fights from this century.

It was the first Micky Ward/ Arturo Gatti fight. There is no doubt that it was one of the defining fights of the 2000s and the 9th round is in the top 10 of greatest rounds ever. I remember recording the rebroadcast on VHS (yup, I’m that old) and telling folks that hadn’t seen it that it was the closest thing to a “real life Rocky fight” that I had ever seen.

Gatti blocks a punch with his face.

Ward, who has been Mark Wahlberg-ed into being a better fight then he was, was a straight ahead fighter who had a tremendous left hook and willingness to walk through a rainstorm of punches to throw it. Gatti, “The Blood and Guts Warrior”, was on the wrong side of 30 and known for his wild out of the ring lifestyle and propensity to bleed more than his boxing acumen.  Needless to say, they made for excellent television.

Ward was cut in the first round and bled throughout much of the contest. Gatti would crumble to the canvas in the ninth from one of Ward’s trademarked left hooked. If you watch the fight, you can hear the unrestrained glee in Jim Lampley and Emmanuel Steward’s voices as they call the fight. They know they are watching, knowing that what they are seeing is why we as fans watch the sport.  Two guys, leaving it all in the ring, wailing away at each other with everything they have for the enjoyment of people around them.

Which brings us to Frankie Leal.  Don’t know who he is?  Neither did I until I perused Deadspin this weekend and read an excellent post by the writer/commenter known as “Iron MikeGallego”. On Saturday the 19th, Leal, a 26-year-old Mexican fighter, fought Raul Hirales.  Hirales floored Leal in the 8th round with a solid left hook to the body and a right hand that cuffed the back of Leal’s head.

Leal managed to get to his feet, but then slowly slid down the ring corner as the refs count reached eight. The young fighter looked dazed as he slumped in the corner as the ring doctor steadied his head and flashed a light in his eyes. After being taken out of the ring in a stretched he fell into a coma after the fight and three days later passed away due to traumatic brain injury. Not that it needed anymore tragedy, but Hirales and Leal were good friends outside of the ring.

I’ve watched the fight (there is a link in the Deadspin article) and what stands out to me is how routine the fight was to watch.  For eight rounds the two fighters went toe-to-toe fighting close rounds. While I had Hirales well ahead on points (thanks to a 6th round knockdown) each round was pretty close.

If you were to watch the fight without knowing the morbid outcome you would be hard pressed to believe that Leal suffered life-ending trauma during the fight.  Contrast it to the vicious shots that were landed throughout the entire Gatti/Ward fight.  There is a moment in the 5th round where Gatti has his hands down and Ward absolutely tees off with a three-shot combination that lands flush.  Gatti looks dazed but doesn’t go down.

Throughout the eight rounds last Saturday there are plenty of clean shots that land, but no “smoking gun” punch that one can directly point to exact moment that doomed Leal. Therein lies the problem.  In a sport where the object is to physically beat a person to the point where he is incapacitated for at least 10 seconds, where is the line drawn when enough is enough?

Leal popped up from his knock down in the 6th with no issue in fact he looked more troubled by an earlier low blow that caught him flush on the cup. During the fatal knockout sequence Leal is hurt by a body shot, then a flurry of punches drive him from the corner. As he starts to fall, Hirales clipped him on the back of the head with a “rabbit punch”. It was unintentional, caused by Leal’s falling body, but he got up briefly before his body gave up and he collapsed to the mat.

Could Leal’s life have been saved?  Possibly. It took several minutes for the medical team to get into the ring, get the stretcher to the ring and get Leal out of the arena and on his way to the hospital.  In March of 2012 Leal had also been stretchered out of the ring after being knocked out by Evgeny Gradovich. However, those factors took place outside of the ring. Unfortunately, if you look at just the in-ring action there isn’t much that could have been done to prevent his death.

It’s a testament to how far boxing has fallen from the limelight that Leal’s death isn’t drawing more national attention.  If a football player died last Sunday from severe head trauma the sports world have gone apoplectic. The talking heads would be stroking out while expressing their outrage. There would be talk of cancelling games and government investigations. Yet, in boxing the beat goes on.  

That is the face of a man with ill intentions.

On Saturday, Gennady Golovkin, the hardest-hitting middleweight that no one knows about, will take on Curtis Stevens in New York City. Undoubtedly there will be a 10 bell count in his memory and then after some thoughtful words Golovkin will go on his way to trying to knock out Stevens to the delight of the HBO crowd. The scene will be repeated in November when Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios trade power shots with each other in what could be the most entertaining fight of the year. 

In the Deadspin post, the writer refers to the Leal/Hirales fight as “ugly”. It's really the one point that I disagree with him on. Unfortunately, upon watching it didn’t seem ugly to me, it seemed all too normal. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Steven Stamkos - Ridiculously Un-Photogenic Hockey Card Guy

For some reason the Tampa Bay Lightning have four days between games.  That means either I have to write about something else (yeah, missed the Ravens game again) or come up with something vaguely related to hockey but not based on anything directly game related.

So that means another hockey card post.  I guess I could have gone another way and written about the government shutdown and its long term effects on education, defense and overall trust in government, but then you would know that someone had hijacked my blog.  Politics or in-depth insight into something that actually means something in the world?  C’mon.

Instead of all that rigmarole let’s talk about Steven Stamkos and young Steven’s goal face.  Not sure what I’m talking about?  Neither was I until about five days ago. 

As I mentioned in my last post I was jonsing for some new cards, so along with box of Rookie Anthology, I bid on a twelve card Stamkos lot on eBay.  I won. Yea!  A couple of days ago I received the package in the mail and flipped through the twelve new Stamkos cards (along with a couple of extra Lightning cards the seller threw in.  Thoughtful sellers are truly the blessed among us).

It’s always fun to get new cards in the mail.  Not only does it fulfill that deep desire to complete things, but there is also fun in noticing the details of the cards.  Things like different action shots, different uniforms, background details (empty seats, random players, etc) are always fun to look for.

With the Stamkos one detail emerged card after card. The slick-scoring center has some weird looks on his face.  In fact, he’s the complete opposite of Ridiculously Photogenic Marathon Guy.  For example
Stamkos’ 2012-13 Upper Deck card:

Now enhance:

That’s umm an interesting face, Steven.  Surely this was just a result of the odd camera angle, the rest of his cards feature a slightly less deranged picture of Stamkos, right?
2012-13 SP Authentic:


OK. (Bonus points for the solid lettuce flowing out of the helmet)
2012-13 UD Ice


Ok, maybe Upper Deck has issues with Stamkos.  Maybe Panini will be kinder
2013-14 Prizm


Nope. The huge visor doesn’t help either. Next?

2011-12 NHL Player of the Day


I’m going to say he’s just tremendously focused on the puck.  Then again he has scored 10 points in 8 games and 396 points in 381 games so if it works him I guess I’m cool with it. A few more for your viewing pleasure.  Bonus points* if you know what sets they are from.

*Bonus points are valid for absolutely nothing.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ravens Lose a Close One So I'll Rip Some Hockey Cards

I just realized that it has been almost three months since I’ve posted anything about hockey/baseball cards.  For a blog that receives the bulk of its web traffic from the Sports Card Blogroll that is damn near unacceptable. So consider the schneid officially off and enjoy a “retro” hockey break.

Last week I managed to get four out of five days off from the hotel.  Not only that, but The Duchess was also out of town for most of that break.  So what does a middle age guy with days off and a quasi-bachelor weekend do in Chicago with his time?  Well, this guy works on his hockey card collection.  Yup, multiple hours of updating photos on Zistle and organizing trades.  Woo-hoo.

One of the drawbacks of organizing the chaos and getting cards sorted and put away is the desire to buy new cards to sort and catalog. Unfortunately, the new Upper Deck (double rookie class!) isn’t coming out for a few more weeks.  And while I do have an income these days, the fiscal wallet squeezing from my unemployed days still looms over my purchasing habits.

However, the urge to buy was too great to be satiated by a value pack from Target, especially once I received the weekly specials email from Dave and Adams.  So, I went online card shopping.  After perusing the bargain isle I decided on a box that offered at least four hits for under 50 bucks. Not a bad value.  So here we go with The Hopeful Chase Box Break Review of:

2011-12 Panini Rookie Anthology

Ten packs, five cards per pack with 2 autographs and 2 relic cards “guaranteed” along with a BONUS back that contained an auto or relic.  So umm….why not just advertise five hits?

Anyway, I left the bonus pack till last and got to ripping. 

Base cards:

I must say they are pretty clean looking cards.  The simple white background with angled borders focuses attention on the player photo.  I like that the borders coincide with the team colors. It makes for a well put together card that feels and looks a little like SP Authentic.  With only 100 base cards, putting together a full set hopefully won’t be too difficult.

Non fancy inserts

Each pack featured an insert of some sort.  Anthology gets its name by incorporating inserts from other Panini sets. At least I’m pretty sure that is where the name comes from. Sprinkled among the base set were inserts from Crown Royale, Pinnacle, Certified, Contenders and Luxury Suite.


All of my rookies were inserts – with four of them being Pinnacle Dufex inserts. Excuse me, I mean Nufex inserts:

Out of the four I guess Louis Leblanc is the best of the lot.  At least he’s not playing in Germany or Finland. I’m not a fan of the Nufex cards, just a little too busy and hard to make out details.  Some folks love ‘em, though.  Go figure.

Calder Candidate

Serial numbered out of 999.  That’s nice.  Mike Murphy is a number one goalie… Charlotte. With Cam Ward still stopping pucks and Justin Peters as his heir apparent it would probably behoove Murphy to find a new organization (I hear Edmonton could use a goalie).

Rookie Royalty:

I’m a sucker for die cut cards, especially ones that look like a crown.  The player could have been better, as Kytner is currently playing in the Czech League after appearing in one NHL game in his career.

The Hits

Leaf Certified Freshman Signature Brett Bulmer.  I’m watching the Lightning play the Wild as I type this up.  Bulmer is not playing.  At least not for the MINNESOTA Wild. He’s apparently he’s toiling for the Iowa Wild these days (2 goals in 2 games – maybe he’ll get a call up).

Draft Year Combos Devin Setoguchi and Marc-Edouard Vlasic

I’ve been eyeing the Vinny Lecavalier/ David Legwand version of this card for a few years now. I like the concept and the execution.  Two white swatches are kind of meh, but overall a nice card.  I think I know someonewho might enjoy this card.

Rookie Rivalry Tomas Kubalik/Ryan Ellis

Another nice dual relic card.  I’m not a big fan of the layout, if they went horizontal with this look I think it would be a little more aesthetically pleasing.

Rookie Treasures

Another card with multiple pieces of sweater on it rounds out my 4 guaranteed hits.  Panini slapped a sticker autograph on the bottom which makes up for them yet another two white swatches.  Is it me or does Da Costa look like he just saw a ghost?

I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t expecting much out of the bonus pack.  I’m usually not that lucky.  I was thinking that it would be a nice card of some guy that I had kind of heard of, but was playing in the KHL these days.  Instead I got this…..

Three colors!
Numbered to 99!
Someone I’ve heard of!
A name that is really hard to spell!

Look it’s hard to have a “perfect” hockey card.  However, the only reason I would knock points off of this card is that it is a sticker autograph. If this was hand-signed I might have to put this in the Perfect Card Hall of Fame.

Even with the slight blemish, this card really made my day.  Not sure what I’m going to do with it yet.

Overall this was a fun break.  I think Dave and Adam has boxes for about $47 online. Even with 2011-12 not being the strongest of rookie classes it’s still a fun box to rip.  I’ll probably be getting another one and seeing if I can put the base set together….or get enough dupes to send some out for TTM autographs.
Anyone else rip this one back in the day?