Sunday, October 27, 2013

Football '13 Week 8: Complete Set Sunday - 2010 Upper Deck New Orleans Saints Super Bowl Champions.

       This week I am bringing back one of my few recurring topics.  A little while ago, after my trip to New Orleans, I decided to augment my Saints collection to fill in a few holes. While I was there I found out there was a commemorative set from the Super Bowl win that I did not have.  I went on to eBay and  got into a bidding war for this 2010 Upper Deck New Orleans Saints Super Bowl Champions set.  Turns out, this is a pretty rare set.  I mean, some of these kinds of sets are still on the shelves today from 5+ years ago.  But of course, for my favorite team, it is rare and hard to get.  Well, I didn't win that one from the bidding war and believe me, we took the closing bid far over the actual retail price.  My collection would not stand for this, so I found another one with an even more ridiculous Buy It Now price.  Luckily, it also had a Make An Offer, so I did.  Sadly, this also turned into a nasty bit of negotiating, but after a bit of back and forth we agreed on an exorbitant price.  Dammit thought, it is all mine so lets take a look.

The design integrates the bright bright orange and blue of the Super Bowl XLIV logo, which is a jarring contrast to the black and gold of the Who Dats.
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The font for the player name is really tiny, but believe me, they included a lot of the players from the 2009 roster/
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They certainly got a lot of nice action shots.
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Did you know that technically, Scott Fujita is the first Japanese-American to play in the NFL?  You can look it up.
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OK, enough of those garish fronts, let's see the backs...
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Whoa, just as bright.  Nice mirror reflection of the picture on front, though.
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The page placement splits the regular season highlights and the post-season highlights quite nicely.  I still have the call from the Porter interception on my ipod and smile every time it comes on.  A sad oversight is the lack of a card for the onside kick from the start of the second half of the Super Bowl. Still the ballsiest call I have ever seen (especially since it worked).
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The only other drawback?  50 card set...leftover spaces...nooooooooooooooo!

The set also came with an oversized card.  I have left it in the little cellophane sleeve just because. 
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I watched this Super Bowl up in Boston with my usual party crew.  Oddly enough, I had won the lottery for season ticket holders for the chance to buy tickets for Miami but I would have had to get a certified check in person to Metairie LA on a Tuesday morning.  It just wasn't gonna happen.  It's just as well. 

One last thing.  The set came nicely packed and padded in bubble wrap and still got crushed by the USPS.  Look at that box:
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Luckily, the cards inside were safe.  Stupid post office.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dick Poll.

      (Unfortunately, this post is not about this dude).

Today is the 25th anniversary of one of the most famous moments in World Series history.
I obviously don't own this card (but I am a huge fan of the number).

I hate Kirk Gibson but this actually has nothing to do with that.  My eternal dislike of him began a week earlier and to tell the truth, I was never fond of his humorless rah-rah football mentality.  And I am certainly not here to praise Mr. Gibson  - nor am I here to bury him, sadly - but to praise the calls of this home run.  I have never run a scientific poll on this blog so I figured now would be as good a time as any.

As baseball fans know, this homer spawned not one but two of the greatest calls of all time and I would like to find out which one you think is better.

Now, the one you seem to hear most often is the radio call of Jack Buck's succinct exclamation:

On the other hand, the TV call by Vin Scully is equally understated:

Note the very long pause to let the moment breathe and then the brilliant turn of phrase.

I have also added my own reaction to Gibson's lucky swing to the poll, located in the right margin of the blog.  While that particular call only went out to an audience of 5 or 6 of my annoyed neighbors it is easily one of my personal best.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Football '13 Week 6: Road Trip! (Cancelled).

       When the schedule came out earlier this year, I got very excited at the prospect of the Saints playing the Patriots.  This match up doesn't happen very often - every four years to be specific.  Plus, since it was an away game, it gave me the rare opportunity to see the Saints close to home as Foxboro is barely a three hour drive from the house.  Not to mention that New England in October is quite the spectacle to behold, nature wise.  I was psyched.  I was all set to get gouged on StubHub and make the trip.

       And then my brother and sister in law decided to have a child.  This fact is kind of a big deal as it is the first of the new generation in my family.  They like children and are far more god-fearing than I am and in that, they decided to have the Christening this weekend.  I love football but family comes first, so I begrudgingly gave up my road trip to southern Massachusetts and instead I am headed in the other direction this morning, on my way to Pennsylvania.  I am not looking forward to a morning in church but ya gotta do whatcha gotta do.  It helps that the kid is absolutely adorable.  

So in honor of my aborted trip, here are the 1998 Bowman Interstate Parallels.  Baseball used the international theme and flags but since 99.9% of football players are from the United States, they used state maps instead:
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And as a delightful bonus, on the back they put a mocked state license plate with a position or player appropriate pun (check out that Rickey Dudley):
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One of the best parts of a road trip is finding these on other people's cars and chuckling, groaning, or trying to figure out what the hell they are trying to say. 

I liked these silly cards so much, I made two pages, one of veteran players and one of rookies:
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1998 had a great rookie class, granted, these are some of the lesser lights. 
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The silver lining to the day is that it is a late afternoon game, so all of the church nonsense and most of the family hobnobbing will be done by the time kickoff, um, kicks off at 4:25 (not to mention my brother has a much much bigger TV than anyone else I know).  So rather than getting pelted with objects in the upper deck of Gillette Stadium, I'll get to have seconds of a catered spread in the comfort of my brother and SIL's living room while watching the game.  Hmmmm, maybe they did me a favor?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Before and After.

       I have a menial part time job.  How menial? I refuse to even tell you what it is.  The good thing about this job is that I can do it with no thought or function, it is 2 miles from my house, and they pay me straight cash (attention NSA and IRS, no, they don't).  It also helps fill in the time when "real" work isn't available and keeps me out of trouble.  Well, at this particular workplace, one guy got fired and another just up and quit leaving them very short handed and since I am a little underemployed otherwise, I told them I could fill in until they found someone.  This was my first mistake.  My "part time" job has taken up 48 hours each of the last two weeks and this is a job where I am on my feet 8-12 hours at a time.  Needless to say, it has left my old body very tired and left me very little time for my favorite hobby (thus the lack of updates lately - at least I have a decent excuse for a change...).  In fact, it has left me with little time to do anything with all my incoming cards except this:
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Yup, I have just been throwing them in a random pile on the floor.  So sad.  I was on a listia and ebay buying kick the last couple weeks to boot, so this pile got very large and unruly very quickly.  Lucky for me, I had a nice quiet evening tonight, leaving me with a good block of time to tidy this all up.  Let's see what happened, shall we?

A few months ago, I threatened to make a page of the 2013 Opening Day Blue Shiny parallels:
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This page is the fruits of what became quite a labor.  I went on ebay and bought two lots of these, figuring I could make a page and use the rest as listia and/or trade bait.  One of the lots came right away, the other did not.  I got an email from the seller saying they got returned to him by the post office and refunded my money.  I have my suspicions he didn't like the price he got for his lot, god I hate that...but oh well, I then bought another little lot and finished off this page.  It's got a good balance of teams and players and a good contrast of photos.  I like it and the scan doesn't do it justice, it is not just shiny, it is SHINY!!!

Speaking of shiny, I also bought a lot of these on a whim:
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I wasn't even sure what they were, but I got them because the lot had a couple of Mets in it.  Then I read up and found out they were hobby shop redemption cards.  I have no doubt all those fine honest shop owners didn't open the packs and put them online for sale.  Nooooooo.....that would never happen.  Anyway, I can't decide if I like the design of them or not.  They have a bit of a Lichtenstein thing going on, but there is also a lot of odd negative space.  I cannot deny, though, that they are quite shiny.  And lord knows I have some Spring Fever because my team is not in the playoffs again for the seventh year in a row.  I am rooting for a Dodgers/Red Sox World Series if anyone cares and honestly, I am not sure I even do. 

One of my many odd Listia buys was a batch of Andres Galarraga cards:
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I was at the time looking for oddball Post cards, but I ran across this lot of 10 Galarraga cards.  I didn't have a page of Big Cat cards because he always played for teams I didn't care for and he flamed out late in his career as a Mets Spring Training signee (one of many with that distinction).  But I guess time heals all wounds and for the equivalent of a dime, I added this page to my retired books.

Next is a page I am happy to add to my binders:
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These are 1995 Topps Premier Hockey Special Effects cards.  Sadly, they did not scan as well as I wanted them too, but they are quite shimmery and shiny.  The "special effect" is a sheen of shininess that looks like skated-on ice and believe me, it looks quite nifty.  I learned of the existence of these cards a couple weeks ago when I wrote up this post about shiny football cards.  I was so excited to learn they existed, I went on ebay and got a big lot of them from Canada.  I even decided to let a Rangers player creep in there, a team I do not usually let onto my pages.  But I look at it as, the Rangers winning the cup was so rare and unusual I might as well throw them a bone.

One last batch of listia lot hijinx:
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I was looking for Drew Brees cards and came across this insert set from this year's Topps football flagship.  They are based on those very cheesy inserts they put in rack-packs back in the late 80's and early 90's.  I thought they were die cut to have rounded corners to be all modern and classy, but it turns out that is just a trick of the light.  The seller also mailed these in a plain white envelope with no protection whatsoever. By some bit of dark magic, they made it through the postal system unscathed.  Listia is such a crapshoot; maybe that's why I like it so much...I need a little more excitement in my life.

There were so many odd cards in that pile that will eventually show up on the blog, but here is one I am not sure will ever get a chance to be featured otherwise:
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I really like this insert set.  I have a few of them in my collection and if I was really feeling frisky, I could buy the 10-card set and make a page.  But right now, I am content to own the Griffey in all its teal colored jersey see thru glory.  It's even better that I grabbed it on listia for a faux fifty cents.

One last thing you may have noticed in the lower right of the pile:
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My menial job does let me talk to people and we have many many regular customers.  One of them I have known for a long time and he is a real character.  He repairs pin set up machines for local bowling alleys.  This is a very specific skill and judging by this gentleman, it obviously requires eccentricity.  Anyway, he noticed I had been working everyday for 2 weeks straight rather than my usual 2-3 days a week and we got to talking.  He asked me "well, what do you do when you aren't here" and I told him my vocation and I told him I was also a writer.  "Well, what do you write about?"  I told him about my failed life as a novelist and I told him I have a blog.  "What is your blog about?"  Now, people usually ask these question about writing to be polite.  My usual answer about my blog "baseball cards" immediately makes 99% of people change the subject as they have either no interest, understanding, or patience for such things.  Not this time.  His face lit up and he said "Really?  I used to collect back in the day..."  And off we went on a 20 minute rapid-fire conversation about baseball, baseball cards, and collecting in general.  We talked about favorite players and teams and the like. What we have, used to have, going to shows, selling at shows, that I used to work at a card shop etc.  This doesn't happen to me very often outside of a card show, so it was quite a pleasant little moment.  Later in the day, the dude comes back and hands me this little pile of stuff and says "I don't collect much anymore and I thought you would like these more than I would."  I mean, look at those cards.  These aren't junk, this is a Piazza rookie card, two rare Piazza parallels, and a couple of nice 1970's vintage cards (of course, I will have to bust them out of those screwdown prisons).  I can be quite the curmudgeon when it comes to talking to people at work, especially when I am tired but in this one time, it seems hard work and being personable was more than its own reward. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Football '13 Week 5: It Belongs In a Museum.

       Back in the early '90s, the shiny high end parallel war scorched the earth.  Every brand came out with a high end brand and every high end brand tried to out-shiny the other guy.  It was an ever escalating battle that was eventually deemed moot by serial numbers and game used swatches.  It also left a few brands in its wake.  One of them was one I thought could have been a contender: Score.  Score came out in 1988, a year before Upper Deck.  It was colorful and had big bright pictures.  It's entry in the high end sweepstakes was Pinnacle and Pinnacle looked great.  It had solid designs and great backs.  Then when everyone decided to go full bleed (one of the shots across the bow Stadium Club is responsible for), Pinnacle lost its way.  It stayed simple, but just could not keep up with the SPs and Stadium Clubs of the world.  Score was eventually bought out by Donruss and Donruss was eventually bought out by Pinnacle and by 1997, Score and Pinnacle were gone.  Panini has brought back the Pinnacle name recently, but it just isn't the same. 

The one thing Pinnacle can hang its hat on was what they called the duflex effect.  It made things all shimmery and shiny and it looked wonderful.  Pinnacle referred to these parallel cards as the Museum Collection.  Sadly, I cannot explain why they decided that shiny was museum quality and not, say, painted-style pictures, but who am I to try to explain marketing from the 1990s? For football, they changed the name to the Trophy Collection, because, well, once again, who really knows...
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I picked these cards up in recent years and never had the joy of pulling a shiny duflex out of a pack.  I have to think it was kinda mind-blowing in 1994 to pull such a weird wild card.  My, how times have changed.
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So shiny, so 90s.  RIP Kory Stringer - always hydrate when you workout.
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I never noticed before, but the corner of that Craver card is clipped off.  I also have a card from the wrong year on this page.  I am a terrible curator of my duflex museum.