Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Recovery.

       First and foremost, we are all okay.  Hurricane Sandy blew through New Jersey and most of the northeast Monday & Tuesday and knocked some trees around and took the power out.  Luckily, my family and I all made it through in one piece.  Unfortunately, the power company says I will not be getting any juice back for another 5-10 days(!) so I am currently a refugee in Pennsylvania because my brother somehow kept his electricity thought out the storm.  I am making good use of myself by dog sitting his adorable puppy while he and his wife work overtime, so I have some time on my hands.  While the dog sleeps, I figured it would be a good time to post. 

I recently had some COMC.com purchases mailed to me, and since this is probably the last bit of mail I am gonna see for a while, let's take a look at those:
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I have threatened to make a page of the Upper Deck Heroes blue parallel Mets and I plucked four on the way to that goal.  The Gypsy Queen base set isn't much to look at, but some of the inserts are marvelous.  I picked off the regular and mini version of the Endy Chavez Glove Stories.  For three innings, that was the greatest catch ever.  Still, six years later, it is pretty damn good.  I also grabbed the Gary Carter mini numbered out of /99 since these cards work well in mini and sepia tones.  Also here are a couple of David Wright cards (the Mets just wisely picked up his option for 2013 and *gasp* may actually spend the money to sign him long term....).  While I am not a big fan of plain white jersey squares, this year's Ginter picture of Wright is so good - and the price was so right - I grabbed it anyway.  The last card there is a 1976 SSPC card of Jerry Koosman and Duke Snider that Night Owl featured a while ago and I was so taken with the card, I immediately went online and bought it.  The internet = instant gratification.  Of course, I waited almost 4 months to have it sent to me, so I also delayed gratification on that one too.

The second part of the batch; I was on a Tom Seaver kick:
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The card that started that kick was the Allen & Ginter What's in a Name insert.  I found that one and decided to grab the other two 2012 Golden thingies I needed.  I also then got the Archives base and floating head rubdown.  The 2012 Ginter search lead me also to the Sketch card, which I grabbed, and then, somehow, I got to the 1984 traded (which I could have sworn I owned but it turns out somehow I didn't) and also some 1984 ultra oddball rubdowns.  Twins fans would like that one too.  The last card there is a Mike Piazza manufactured patch card.  Something seems a tad amiss with that one...let's take a close look:

Enhance!!!





































Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick, look at that!  That's not even close, Upper Deck. Nice quality control.  What you can't really see there is the smear of glue where the patch was placed and then somehow slipped off.  I guess UD should also put the "contents may settle during shipment" warning they place on cereal boxes on their wrappers.  Oh, and this was not the card they had scanned into COMC either. I don't know who to complain to about this one...well, other than to you guys.

And on a serious note if you were in Sandy's way, I hope you and your family are safe, that the damage isn't too bad, and that the power and insurance companies are expedient.   Plus, it is times like this when we all pull together and figure stuff out.  As long as you and your loved ones are safe, that is all that matters.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Football Week 8: A Rival League.

       A couple of things recently have me longing for a rival league to the NFL.  Don't get me wrong, I do love me some National Football League, but I think there is room for more.  I read this week that the UFL has suspended operations for the season because they couldn't make payroll.  This made me sad, as I was rooting for them to succeed.  I think having a rival league, or at very least, a minor league for the NFL will keep them honest and innovating.  Right now, they are the 500 pound gorilla and have a monopoly over professional football.  Monopolies are never good for business, any business.  The second thing that has me thinking is the fact that Doug Flutie has been doing one of those ubiquitous Dove commercials.  Back in the day, I was a huge Doug Flutie fan, heck, I still am (as you will see...). My brother and I watched the epic BC v. Miami game the day after Thanksgiving in 1984 and we were instantly spellbound.  (And yes, I loved college football when I was a kid, but I outgrew the game; the combination of NCAA hypocrisy and the fact that I went to a college without a football team pretty much did in any love I had for the college game...but I digress).  Flutie got drafted by our New Jersey Generals in the USFL and when he actually signed with them, that did it; it has been Doug Flutie for life since then. 

The USFL was fun.  It was wacky.  It had style the NFL didn't have back in the 1980's.  The NFL has adopted a lot of the quirks of the USFL game.  The demise of the USFL was very well documented in an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary a couple of years ago (you should watch it, I suggest it highly). It is a shame that league didn't make it.  But I am not here to bury the USFL, I am here to praise it. 

I have picked up a couple of pages worth of USFL cards here and there.  This handsome complete page is from the second series of cards in 1985:
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You will recognize plenty of names there.  Luis Zendejas is one of the Flying Zendejas brothers of kicking
fame.  Mike Rozier won the Heisman trophy.  Doug Williams won the Super Bowl.  Rick Neuheisel has coached several high profile college programs.  Sam Mills was a devastating linebacker for the Saints and Panthers. Mike Lush has an awesome name. All of them got their start in the USFL. 

My second page of USFL cards is not nearly as comprehensive, but it is worth seeing nonetheless:
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There are five cards from the 1984 "premier" set.  I really should pick up 4 more to make a full page.  Featured here are Vince Evans, who played backup QB forever.  Scott Norwood, who needs no introduction to anyone who roots for the Bills, Giants, or who likes the first Ace Ventura movie.  Anthony Carter and Gary Plummer also played in the NFL at a high level for a long time. There are a couple of New Jersey General cards in here too. They were my team but honestly, I don't remember either of those players (I do own this one though). Don't ask how that Brodie Croyle card wandered in here...I am still working on cleaning up these football pages.  Although, it kinda makes sense that he is on this page, Brodie Croyle is the kind of player that would have thrived in the USFL.

The point is, there is room in America for a spring time football league.  The USFL did things right (until they did things really really wrong).  You can challenge the NFL indirectly and sign some good players and give forgotten players or misfit players (like the aforementioned Doug Flutie) a chance to show their skills.  Why it has been nearly 30 years since someone tried this properly is mind boggling to me.

Oh, and how much did I love Doug Flutie?  I like to root for the underdog (*cough*Mets*cough*) and no one ever accomplished more as an underdog than Doug.  I watched his New Jersey Generals games every week.  I followed him with the Bears and Patriots.  I followed him up to the CFL, well, as much as ESPN would let me.  I followed him back to the NFL with the Bills.  That 1998 season was very exciting and the Bills are still paying for their lack of vision in benching him for the playoffs.  I worked in Boston at the time a block from where his charity had an office.  The receptionists would come into the card store with boxes of Flutie Flakes and Flutie Flake candy bars. I even met Doug once and trust me, they list him at 5'10" and that is, um, a lie.  He is a little dude.  He is also a very friendly dude.

Flutie won whenever he got the chance to play and it is just unbelievable that he didn't get more of a chance than he did.  As you can plainly see, I am most biasedly a Flutie fan.  How much so?  A couple of years ago my brother found a seller on ebay that had USFL jerseys.  He bought me a Flutie one for my birthday.  I wear it with pride to this day.  How many people do you know have a New Jersey Generals #22 jersey?
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Saturday, October 27, 2012

World Series Rack Packs.

       Walking into K-Mart on a Friday afternoon before Halloween and the perfect killer Frankensnowideathicane 2012, in retrospect, was not the best idea.  First of all, I bought candy a good 4 days before I am going to need it, which means most of it will be eaten between today and the Hallows on Tuesday.  Secondly, I had to walk past the card aisle not once but twice and the siren song of new Topps and discounted product was just too much to ignore.  I noticed that the Update series was out, so I grabbed a couple of the jumbo rack packs, just to amuse myself.  I also saw there was some discounted OPC hockey from a couple years ago, so I snatched one of those too.
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Quick aside: I noticed Topps puts their Twitter and Facebook right on the packages now.  Even just 2 years ago, Upper Deck did not have that information on their wrappers. I will have to look to see when they started to put this on the packs.  One thing I love about the old wax packs from the 70's and 80's are the clubs and freebies they advertise on the backs of the wrappers and how dated and odd they look now.  I wonder if kids will look back at these packs in a couple of decades with the same sort of wonderment.  "What the heck is a facebook?" they will ask and go back to playing their 3D imbedded sensory video games that are implanted at birth, or something like that.  Anyway, back to the matter at hand.
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The World Series often brings out a longing for baseball cards, new and old alike, in my heart.  Granted, I haven't watched my team in one for a dozen years and haven't seen an actual winner in 26 (though 2004 and 2007 were fun), but there is still a rush that comes from the fall classic.  I like to watch the games, or at very least have them on in the background.  It is all the more enjoyable this year that the Yankees are not involved.  Anyway, let's take a look at what came out of these packs.  I don't like to list every card, so let's just go with the nine highlights:
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Hey look, it's superman Mike Trout, I am touting him as MVP of the league.  Sure Miguel Cabrera won the triple crown, but Ted Williams won TWO triple crowns, do you know how many MVPs he won in those years?  Zero.  So I don't think the triple crown is an automatic MVP win.  Also here is the newly minted Giancarlo Stanton.  If I had such a lyrical name as Giancarlo, I would never let anyone call me anything but that.  I assume he went by Mike as a kid because other children couldn't say Giancarlo.  Kids are the worst.  We also have some rookie cards of Trevor Bauer and Will Middlebrooks (who is also on the Golden Giveaway card).  I also got the obligatory Bryce Harper card.  It is players like this that make me feel old.  I am technically old enough to be his father (if I was very popular/irresponsible in high school, that is).  Roy Oswalt tried to pull the Pedro Martinez/Roger Clemens trick of coming in halfway through the year and didn't fare so well.  I have liked Roy ever since I read that he got a bulldozer as a signing bonus (or maybe he bought one with his signing bonus) either way, he went on his ranch and played with it for days.  He didn't really have any heavy earth to move at the time, he just played with it...that sounds like a kid at heart if ever I heard one. On the bottom there are more 1987 minis, the shiny gold and, in a similar move to last year when they put the series 1 and 2 liquorfractors in update, they have the gold numbered parallels for the regular issue in the update.  Why Topps chose to do this and not just, you know, put them in with the proper series, proves that Topps sometimes just likes fucking with us.

Here is Rack Pack #2, and not that it is a contest, but this one was far better:
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I didn't get a single Met in the first pack, in this one, I got four, including two Dickeys.  And I have proven time and again how much I love my Dickeys.  Also there are one of my new favorites on the team, Jordany Valdespin, adored for his awesome name, goofy attitude, and hard hitting.  Valdespin can't catch a cold, which means he will eventually find his way to the American League, but I will enjoy him for as long as he is on the Mets.  On the complete opposite end of the love spectrum is Manny Acosta.  The Mets bullpen in 2012 was made of kerosine, but Acosta was more water on magnesium.  I watched him give up 3 runs in 2 innings and his ERA went down.  He was awful.  I mean car crash involving a school bus and a liquid nitrogen tanker awful.  He was so bad, I heckled him in Citizen Bank Ballpark better than the Phillies fans could.  If Manny Acosta is on the team next year, I will know the current regime has no plan on winning anytime soon.  In that upper right corner is the very odd sight of Ichiro in a Yankees uniform. [UPDATE: Eagle eyed reader Nick of Baseball Dime Boxes tells me this cool card is the SP] I watched him the last couple of months of the season and all through the playoffs and I could not get used to this.  I can only imagine what Mariners fans thought of the whole thing.  That other base card is a great shot of the Reds catcher with a glove on his head.  I enjoy silly cards like this and this one is kinda subtle since it does not feature the player listed on the card.  This card will probably make it on to my 2012 Topps page.  The last row is the inserts, which are the same kind as the other rack.  I have no idea if that is the way they are supposed to be or if it is a coincidence.  That mini Mattingly reminds me of the 1987 league leader mini, which is one of my favorite Mattingly cards.  He had a very distinctive follow through on his swing and any card that captures it looks pretty damn good.  If you are building this set/series, drop me an email with your wantlist and I will be happy to send what I have to you.  Everything except the Mets, the Trout, the Ichiro, the Mattingly, and the Simon card are for trade.  I did not use the Golden Giveaway numbers, either, so those are up for grabs if you drop me a line as well.

Wait! There was also hockey cards in this purchase.  I am so mad at hockey right now, I cannot really express my feelings on the matter without swearing and screaming.  The usual cliche anger of millionaire vs. billionaires is tinged with the fact that they just did this 7 years ago.  How greedy/stupid/self-destructive do you have to be to have a lockout again?!?  Anyway, the World Series always reminds me that hockey is around the corner, but this year, it just reminds me that once it ends, I have to wait for all this NHL nonsense to be cleared up; nonsense that really could be settled in a couple hours if everyone involved wasn't dumber than a box of hammers.  I could rant and ramble about this for a long time, and I have done enough of that in this post...

/soapbox

OK, enough, let's look at the highlights of the 2009-2010 OPC pack:
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I got one lonely Devil, Colin White, who isn't even on the team anymore.  I also got one rookie, a dude named Matt Hendricks whom I have never heard of before, but I went to school with a bunch of kids named Hendricks and I am pretty sure one of them was named Matt.  I am sure it is not the same one, though.  Also here are former Devil Bill Guerin, rare black dude Wayne Simmonds, a whole bunch of goalies, and one of my favorite hockey names - Martin St. Louis.  If you are a hockey fan/francophile, you know how to pronounce his name correctly.  Why he hasn't been traded to the Blues, I will never understand. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Game Seven.

       There are no sexier words in sports - heck, there might not be sexier words in the entire English language - than Game Seven.  Game Seven is truly the ultimate.  Sure, the playoff play-in games from this year (and the last few years) have been cute, and yeah, they are do or die, as are game 5's in the early rounds.  But Game Seven is a climax.  It has built from something dynamic; two teams have battled to a six game stalemate that can only be answered in this one final game.  It is a grand thing the Super Bowl lacks.  The Super Bowl builds up off of hype and presentation.  Hockey and basketball have them as well, but in essence, there is no greater Game Seven than in baseball.  A baseball Game Seven builds off of two teams who have to prove something after fighting back and forth everyday for a week.  And, oh look, the NLCS will play just such a game this evening.  Goodie, goodie!

       I have no horse in this race.  I don't care for the Giants and I truly despise the Cardinals, but wow, have they played one hell of a series.  I will be rooting for the Giants, because, well, screw the Cardinals.  Yes, I have not forgiven them for 2006.  Really, I have not forgiven them for 1985 yet, either.  So on a purely superficial and selfish level, I want the Giants to win.  I also think a Tigers/Giants World Series would be a good match up.  Besides, we just had Cards/Tigers a few years ago and Tigers/Giants would be a first time ever match up in the series and those are always fun.  So I will be eschewing a dull Monday Night Football game this evening and DVRing Dancing With the Stars and instead, I will be riveted to the most awesome spectacle in sport: Game Seven.

And after that little rant, let's look at a few of baseball's Game Seven heroes...

Jack Morris (1991)
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Morris solidified his reputation as a "Money Pitcher" by going out in game 7 of the 1991 World Series and pitching 10 shutout innings.  I think he would have gone 20 in this game if need be.

Johnny Damon (2004)
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Damon hit my favorite game seven home run (at least that I watched live) in the top of the second inning of game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.  The Red Sox had come back in the series from being down three games to none to force the game 7.  Damon hit a grand slam to make the game 6-0 before most Yankees fans had settled into their seats.  It was a glorious death blow to the Yankees. 

Luis Gonzalez (2001)
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Gonzalez ended the 2001 World Series by dunking the ugliest little blooper over Derek Jeter's head to score Craig Counsell and beat the unbeatable Mariano Rivera and end the Yankees latest dynasty.  Most people I know were rooting for the Yankees at the time for all sorts of convoluted reasons; I would root for the terrorists before I root for the Yankees.

Edgar Renteria (1997)
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Renteria had the game winning single to win the 1997 World Series - which is certainly pretty cool. But he also holds a wonderful trivial distinction.  He also made the last out of the 2004 World Series for the Cardinals.  He is the only person to be the last batter of a World Series both as the winner and the loser. 

Bob Gibson (1964, 1967)
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 Bob Gibson didn't have a nickname...Bob Gibson didn't need one.  Bob Gibson won not one, but two Game Sevens in his career (and heck just for good measure, he lost one too, in 1968).  I think if you asked 100 people who they would want to pitch Game Seven, at least half would say Gibson.  I can't say I disagree with them. 

Bill Mazeroski (1960)
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This page is pretty awesome.  It has more than a few heroes on it.  Bucky Dent hit a homer that eventually won a playoff game.  Bobby Thomson hit a homer to win a playoff series.  Kirk Gibson won a Game 1 with a homer.  Roger Maris won a Game 3 with a homer, as did Mark McGwire.  Don Larson pitched a perfect game in a Game 5.  Joe Carter hit a homer to win the 1993 World Series, though it was game 6.  Jackie Robinson's last game in the majors was Game Seven in 1956, and he played in a bunch of them, including Brooklyn's only winner in 1955.  This whole page has nothing but game winning credentials.  But Bill Mazeroski has the absolute unique distinction amongst this page - and big league history - for hitting the only World Series Game Seven winning home run in the bottom of the ninth.  He is pictured rounding third from that day in 1960 on the card above. 

Grover Cleveland Alexander (1926), Walter Johnson (1924)
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Here we get a twofer, a pair of old pitchers who came out of the bullpen to secure Game 7 victories for their teams.  Ol' Pete Alexander did it in 1926 and The Big Train did it in 1924.  That is 780+ wins to call on in the late innings.  All hands on deck indeed.

Darryl Strawberry (1986)
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The Mets have been beaten in Game 7 three different times (1973, 1988, 2006) and the 1986 World Series is mostly known for its Game 6, not seven.  But do not underestimate that '86 game seven.  It was a stirring comeback win for the Mets.  They were down 3-0 in the early innings, Ron Darling giving up a couple of nasty home runs, one off of the glove of the pictured Darryl Strawberry.  The Mets would chip away at the Red Sox lead and Ray Knight hit the home run that gave the Mets the lead they would never relinquish, but it was Darryl Strawberry who put the exclamation point on the evening, hitting a monstrous towering blast that made it 7-5.  The Mets won the game 8-5 and the series.  That was 26 years ago and 11 year old Max has been waiting for another one ever since.  

Not shown: Gene Larkin (1991), Frank Viola (1987), Brett Saberhagen (1985), Charlie Leibrandt (1985), Willie Stargell (1979), Reggie Jackson (1973), Mickey Lolich (1968), Lew Burdette (1957), Johnny Podres (1955), Enos Slaughter (1946).

(definitely) not shown (for a reason): Yadir Molina, Orel Hershiser, Francisco Cordero, Aaron *bleeping* Boone.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Football Week 7: Random Shiny!

      I have spent the last few months trying to sort out the miasma that is my football binders into something with the appearance of a collection.  The deeper in I get, the more messy everything appears to be.  I want to streamline things the way I have my baseball and (for the most part) my hockey collection.  I want nice nine pocket pages with a single theme.  I want my favorite players and cards well represented.  I want it to look like someone applied a modicum of thought to the whole thing.

That brings us to this couple of pages I found this morning.  They are kooky.  They are full of random cards.  Sure, random can be fun sometimes, but wow, these bring random to a whole new level.  I truly would like to know what I was thinking when these pages were created: "Hey! This one is kinda shiny...this one is die-cut...this one is die-cut and kinda shiny, I think I'll stick it in here!"  That would seem to be the maximum amount of brain power that went into this one:
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Ahhhh, the late 90's and early aughts were such a wonderful time.  Cards with a patchwork of foil, cuts, see-thru, reflectors, refractors, and whatever the hell duflex is.  This page is glorious in its representation of that era.  I am almost tempted not to change this one at all.  It is so organically haphazard that it almost seems planned.  I really wish it was.  The scan does not do it justice either.  That Tamarick Vanover (great name alert!) in the upper left is a Trophy Collection card. The Jim Harbaugh (current 49ers coach) in the middle left is a Stadium Club Dot Matrix parallel.  Yeah, maybe those card styles mean nothing to you, but in real life, they are sooooooo shiny.  The scans of the Kevin Greene and Edgerrin James on the right kinda show how shiny these cards are.  I could probably blind drivers from 50 yards with that Greene card.  The bottom row is a a trio of foil drenched die cuts.  Upper Deck really loves that little curved notch they used on the Kerry Collins card; they used it as recently as 2010. 

This page has a companion.  Unfortunately, it is not nearly as connected by its randomness:
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It would seem that with this page, I really was just sticking cards in the pages.  The Rocket Ismail in the upper left is a Members Only Stadium Club cards and is very shiny (shouldn't he be wearing a jacket?) and apparently, I went completely 5th grade and put in a couple of Marion Butts cards.  That Joey Harrington card in the center square is just as epic as it would appear.  All foil and lightning bolts, it looks like ol' Joe is getting his comeuppance for years of sucking by being electrocuted.  Too bad that insert set was only 6 cards, because a design that dramatic deserves a page of its own.  Sadly, it is downhill from there for this page.  There is a Rick Mirer card that is 1 out of 90,000 - wow, so limited - and a couple of Raiders cards, though one of them is an Upper Deck hologram card of Fred Biletnikoff.  Then it looks like I just stuck a Tom Jackson card in for no reason, since it is neither shiny nor die cut nor a parallel nor anything that would tie it in with the rest of these.  Last but not least is that Earl Campbell card in the middle bottom, which is from 2005, proving I have looked at this page in the last couple years and did nothing about it.  That said, Earl Campbell was a monster.  Never saw him play?  Go take a look...he was amazing.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Football Week 6: Names.

      While I have many pages of goofy baseball names, not to be shortchanged is this marvelous page of football names.
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Smoker, Hooker, and Booty?  Sounds like my kind of party.

I do apologize.  My short little road trip from last week turned all epic on my and I was away from the computer for a while.  I hope this will tide you all over until I get back into a rhythm of posting. Meanwhile, I will bet you a dollar the Saints won't lose today, though. In fact, they can't lose this week, guaranteed!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Football Week 5: Road Trip!

       The glorious autumn weekend finds me in Indiana for a wedding, and, since I'm about halfway there anyway, driving down to New Orleans for this evening's Saints-Chargers game to utilize the family's season tickets. 
















This will be my first live game of the season and with any luck, it will bring good fortune to the Saints since the first 4 games of the season have gone about as poorly as they could have without the team bus driving off a cliff.  I will be up in section 610 screaming our boys on (as though they could hear me from such a distance) and drinking to excess to either drown my sorrows or celebrate our first victory.  And, as an added bonus, I might see a little esoteric history if Drew Brees throws a touchdown, since that will be his 48th straight game with a TD pass; that will best Johnny Unitas' 50-something year old record in that regard...take that Joe DiMaggio!

Oh, and please go read this post; it is probably the best thing I have written on this blog.  Who Dat!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Post #99.

       I am a man of numbers, rarely, though, nice round numbers.  I like my numbers bumpy and a little crooked (just like my women).  This post is number 99 of this blog and, with a pause in the baseball schedule, I can think of no better way to commemorate that momentous number than with the greatest hockey player of all time, the properly nicknamed Great One, Wayne Gretzky.
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I am a huge hockey fan and a huger Devils fan, but I am not ashamed to admit I am an unabashed fan of Wayne (I even forgive him for his "Mickey Mouse organization" quote cuz back in 1983, he was right). I used to have a much larger player collection of Gretzky and paring it down was not easy.  He takes up a good six pages in my hockey binder, which is a lot of real estate for anyone in any part of my books. 
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At one point I did own an actual OPC Gretzky rookie card, but that was sold long ago to pay the rent.  That reprint fills the void.  That Beehive card in the middle might be my favorite Gretzky of all time.  The picture was taken at the original Winter Classic and totally captures the fun of that day with the smile and the stocking cap.  As for the one next to that one, I usually avoid NY Rangers cards of any kind, but I couldn't get rid of the shiny.
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Wayne, like any super-duper star, always seems to get multiple cards in each set.  Pulling a Gretzky card when I was a kid was always a thrill.  Who am I kidding, it's still pretty awesome.
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Gretzky retired with 61(!) scoring records.  My favorite bit of statistical Gretzky trivia is that if you took away all the goals he scored, he would still be the all time leading scorer in NHL history with just his assists.  The NHL retired his number throughout the league.  Some people refer to him as the Babe Ruth of Hockey.  Honestly, you would be more accurate to call Babe Ruth the Wayne Gretzky of Baseball.
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That Upper Deck Masterpiece card in the upper left corner is a classic picture from his trade to the LA Kings.  In fact, his 1988 Topps card uses the same picture.  I always loved the design of that set - so 80's yet so timeless.  Anyway, also on this page are holograms from the 1989-90 Upper Deck hockey set.  When that set first came out it was a very big deal and these things were the biggest deal in it - shiny and rare - I find them in dime boxes now.  Oh, the march of time. 
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This is the back of the last page.  As you can see, those holograms have blank backs.  I mean, completely blank, no writing at all.  I am at a loss trying to think of any modern cards or stickers or anything with blank backs.  There is always some kind of writing or ad or copyright information on them.  If anyone can think of something from the last decade or so that is completely blank, let me know.  There are two things covering up those blank backs.  One is a homemade card from the box of a recent OPC release.  The other is a business card from an eBay seller that uses The Great One (I wonder if he gets any kickback from that?).  In my hopeless collecting nature, I like to keep interesting business cards from real life and the virtual world.  
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As I have mentioned before, I love sports jerseys and my favorite jerseys are hockey jerseys.  I own half a dozen or so.  As I have also noted in the past, I like the vague and unusual, especially as it applies to players in odd uniforms.  Wayne Gretzky is known for playing for the Oilers, Kings, and even the Rangers.  What most people forget is that he also played for the St. Louis Blues for half a season...35 glorious games.  The absolute highlight of my entire sports jersey collection is a St. Louis Blues #99 circa 1995:
























Isn't that just the ugliest thing you have ever laid eyes on?  I've had this thing for 5 years now and when the weather gets cold, it becomes a second skin.  It certainly gets noticed; I have had people chase me down in the supermarket and at concerts to get a better look at it and to talk to me about it.  A friend's wife said (jokingly, I think) she was gonna leave her husband because I owned this jersey (moral of that story: always date women who like hockey).

So that is my 99th post.  I am shocked I have made it this far and with a long winter coming on, I hope I can keep going with it.  Thank you all for reading.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Requiem For a Team.

       Today is game 162 and all sorts of things hang in the balance for some teams this evening - division titles, wild cards, triple crowns, etc.  Unfortunately, this does not apply to my Mets.  I am currently watching the bottom of the 8th of their last game (and, go figure, the bullpen is doing everything they can to give this game away) and I am ruminating on what started off so sweet and how it all turned so sour.  For the 6th consecutive year, there will be no playoffs; for the 4th consecutive year, they will finish below .500.  I long for the days of 2007 and 2008 when this team was choking away big leads - but at least mattered - in September/October, as opposed to the lifeless and meaningless late season games I have forced myself to watch for months at the end of the season.  This team hit a high point of 30-23 on June 3rd (and then they wore their black jerseys for the first and only time this season - draw your own conclusions...) and were still 46-40 at the all star break, then everything fell apart.  If the human combustion brigade that is the Mets bullpen can hold on to this one, they will finish 74-88, fourth place in the NL East.

       Putting it mildly, 2012 has been a let down but there has been a few highlights and even a couple of reasons to look forward to the future.  Matt Harvey looks like the goods.  David Wright carried this team for the first three months and will hopefully be resigned before too long.  Ike Davis overcame a disastrous start to finish with 32 homers.  RA Dickey, besides having a name that my inner fifth grader loves to say out loud, won 20 games and just might win the Cy Young award.  But the true highlight of the season came right near that aforementioned high water mark on June 1st when Johan Santana pitched the first no hitter in New York Mets history. 

My excitement over this achievement was palpable and immediate.  Sure, it was as fluky as a no hitter itself that the Mets hadn't pitched one in 50 years and 8020 games, but this moment was marvelous for me and all Mets fans.  I was recently searching eBay for a particular card and somehow came across this one.  When I saw it, I had to have it.  Had to...
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It is from 2012 Topps Triple Threads.  The one I came across was actually a shinier version (though this one is plenty shiny, the scan does it no justice) and numbered to /27.  But the bidding for that one got out of hand ($43 worth of hand) so I searched for another one.  I eventually found this one and after nursing my bid for a few hours at the end, I was able to procure it for $15.55 (plus shipping of course).  I hadn't obsessively watched an eBay auction like that in a long time.  It was well worth it, as this card is a glorious tribute to that June evening.

When I got the card, I found out it had an interesting back:
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It had a second cut out that commemorated Johan's Cy Young Awards.  OK, that's pretty cool.  In fact, it is the same jersey, as this ingenious photo will show:
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Of course, as we have found out, the little disclaimers on the backs of cards aren't worth the paper they are printed on.  But I don't care in this instance.  This is an awesome card that commemorates a magical moment for my team.  A moment that will long outlive the disappointment of this season. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Littlest Tribute: Larry Wayne Jones.

        I am not afraid to use the word hate.  Seems people shy away from using it, but you can't have white without black, up without down, right without wrong.  I can see not wanting children to use the word, since they are not in full control or understanding of their emotions but as a (sort of) grown up, I can and will use it.  I hate Chipper Jones.
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This may be the only Chipper I own. Anybody want it?
I am not here to praise Larry but to bury him.  Earlier this year, it was announced that this would be his last year.  Teams have given him going away gifts and last week, the Braves gave him a night - fittingly against his favorite whipping boys, my Mets.  I didn't always hate Chipper; I started off completely nonplussed about him, I mean, he was not even on my radar.  The only thing I knew of him was his ridiculous name.  But sometime in the mid to late 90's, he started to homer in seemingly every game he played against the Mets.  His Braves began winning every single NL East title and summarily ousting the Mets from the playoffs.  Every Mets fan worth his salt started call him Larry and hating his guts...and pretty much the rest of him too.  For the last 15 years, he has destroyed everything I hold dear while putting up numbers that will assuredly put him in the Hall of Fame.  And for that, I hate him.  I purged all of the Chipper cards I have, selling them on eBay and sending them off to any Braves fan that will take them.  I will not even give him the satisfaction of a full sized card or font for this post.  You have to feel very strongly about someone to hate them as much as I hate Larry Wayne Jones.  But, goddamn it, do I respect you.  And that is the last semi-nice thing I will ever say about the matter.  That and it will be nice to never have to face you again with the game on the line.  Of course, with the Mets luck, your son Shea will develop into a superstar and prevent the Mets from winning the World Series from 2030-2040 or so.  Did I mention how much I hate you, Chipper?