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!