Monday, December 29, 2014

Mail Call: COMC Cyber Monday.

       I trust all of you enjoyed your Christmas.  I trust Santa Claus brought you everything your heart desired.  Me? I got a nice big lump of coal, but hey, free coal!  Anyway, as a certified (if not quite bonafide) "grown up" I really don't exchange presents much anymore.  Oh, I will bring something if I go to a party, and of course the kids in my life got something, but my attitude towards the whole gift-giving component of the holidays can be summed up in this little exchange between my sister and I the other day at lunch:

Sis: Oh, by the way, I didn't get you anything for Christmas.

Me: Don't worry, I didn't get you anything, either.

Sis: Well, you did just buy me lunch at McDonalds...

Me: Woohoo! Big Macs for Christmas!

All this does not mean I do not take advantage of the retail Armageddon that takes place every year around this time.  One of my favorite sites,, always has a big Black Friday sale and then a Cyber Monday shipping special.  I used the latter to get a bunch of cards I had accumulated over the last many months to my house for free.  Freedom!  Let's take a look at what the gods of commerce have wrought:
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 Those Iooss' make for one hell of a nice page.  The Jimmy Deans?  Well, they look okay, too. These cards finished off two half pages I started at a show over the summer.  It's nice to see the seasons come together so well.  That last vertical Met also finishes a page started at that same show, alas, it did not get a scanning opportunity.

The second batch here is not quite as cut and dry as it is all over the place.  You have a rookie cup addition and some wonderful Mars Attacks inserts to complete a page.  Then it gets even more obscure with a Chico Resch box bottom card that I accidentally discovered while doing the COMC challenge and immediately gobbled up. There is also an obligatory Gary Carter and a Pinnacle Trophy Collection card to fix a page that I had somehow screwed up while building (it happens). Then on the bottom row there is a NASCAR(?) driver and a 1964 Donruss Addams Family card, a must for any non-sports collection. 
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But wait, what is that last card?  What's that name?

Buzz Nutter!
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BUZZ fucking NUTTER!!!!!!!
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Look at that, it's glorious.  I might never recover knowing there was once a professional football player, hell, that there was once a human being that went by the name Buzz Nutter.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Here Comes Santa Claus.

here comes Santa Claus,
Right down Santa Claus lane
Vixen and Blitzen and all his reindeer
Pullin' on the reins
Bells are ringin', children singin'
All is merry and bright
Hang your stockings and say your prayers
'cause Santa Claus comes tonight!

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Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus,
Right down Santa Claus lane
He's got a bag that's filled with toys
For boys and girls again
Hear those sleigh bells jingle jangle,
Oh what a beautiful sight
So jump in bed and cover your head
'cause Santa Claus comes tonight!

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus,
Right down Santa Claus lane
He doesn't care if you're rich or poor
He loves you just the same
Santa Claus knows we're all Gods children
That makes everything right
So fill your hearts with Christmas cheer
'cause Santa Claus comes tonight!

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Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus,
Right down Santa Claus lane
He'll come around when the chimes ring out
That it's Christmas morn again
Peace on earth will come to all
If we just follow the light
So lets give thanks to the lord above
That Santa Claus comes tonight!

- Gene Autry & Oakley Haldeman 1947

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Football '14 Week 16: Playoffs?

       The playoffs for this team started last week and they took advantage of a Bears team that looked much more interested in tee times and travel plans than actually playing football.  This week is the game.  The one that will decide if this is a good team that has had a terrible streak of luck or if this is a bad team that deserves its fate if they lose.  There are few words I could add to measure the magnitude of win and your in.  That is the joy of the playoffs, if you win out, no one cares if you are 13-3 or 8-8.  I am going to turn the mike over to Uncle Al for a few extra inspirational words:

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I don't know what to say really.
Three minutes
to the biggest battle of our professional lives
all comes down to today.
we heal
as a team
or we are going to crumble.
Inch by inch
play by play
till we're finished.
We are in hell right now, gentlemen
believe me
we can stay here
and get the shit kicked out of us
we can fight our way
back into the light.
We can climb out of hell.
One inch, at a time.

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Now I can't do it for you.
I'm too old.
I look around and I see these young faces
and I think
I mean
I made every wrong choice a middle age man could make.
I uh....
I pissed away all my money
believe it or not.
I chased off
anyone who has ever loved me.
And lately,
I can't even stand the face I see in the mirror.

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You know when you get old in life
things get taken from you.
That's, that's part of life.
But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff.
You find out that life is just a game of inches.
So is football.
Because in either game
life or football
the margin for error is so small.
I mean
one half step too late or to early
you don't quite make it.
One half second too slow or too fast
and you don't quite catch it.
The inches we need are everywhere around us.
They are in ever break of the game
every minute, every second.

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On this team, we fight for that inch
On this team, we tear ourselves, and everyone around us
to pieces for that inch.
We CLAW with our finger nails for that inch.
Cause we know
when we add up all those inches
that's going to make the fucking difference
between WINNING and LOSING
between LIVING and DYING.

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I'll tell you this
in any fight
it is the guy who is willing to die
who is going to win that inch.
And I know
if I am going to have any life anymore
it is because, I am still willing to fight, and die for that inch
because that is what LIVING is.
The six inches in front of your face.

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Now I can't make you do it.
You gotta look at the guy next to you.
Look into his eyes.
Now I think you are going to see a guy who will go that inch with you.
You are going to see a guy
who will sacrifice himself for this team
because he knows when it comes down to it,
you are gonna do the same thing for him.

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That's a team, gentlemen
and either we heal now, as a team,
or we will die as individuals.
That's football guys.
That's all it is.
Now, whattaya gonna do?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Football '14 Week 15: Tradition.

       Every family has their own quirky holiday traditions about hiding and finding things.  For some, it is the Elf on the Shelf, for others, it is the Mensch on the Bench, however, we have a different spin on this idea around here...
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Here, we do Brees in the Booze.  I find this a much more appropriate alternative.  You find him in the liquor cabinet, do a shot, and then hang him on the tree.  Who Dat!


It is very simple for the Saints tonight: win.  If they win out, they take the division and host a playoff game.  The Bears have been mailing it in for weeks, and yet I fear this game will be a non-stop heart attack derpfest and by midnight this evening, it is very likely I will have emptied that bottle of rum. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What The Devil?

       I don't write nearly enough about hockey on this blog.  I also think I write that opener every time I do get around to writing about hockey.  After getting off to a nifty 3-0-0 start, the Devils are stuck in a rut at 9-11-4 at the quarter post of the season.  But hey, we actually won a shootout after losing frickin' 18 in a row.  But the 500 lb. elephant in the room is that for the first time (literally) in my adult life Martin Brodeur is not the starting goalie.  What's worse is that today it was announced that Brodeur is going to sign with the St. Louis Blues.

Brodeur would have been the first hall of fame player I got to watch for their whole career, beginning to end, on one of my favorite teams.  Now he joins Tom Seaver, Mike Piazza, Gary Carter, Patrick Ewing, Drew Brees, Scott Stevens et al., though I am holding out hope for David Wright.  The closest thing I can think of is either Lawrence Taylor or Ken Daneyko.  The problem with LT is I am not sure how attentive a fan can you be as a first grader (not to mention his post-playing career peccadillos make rooting for him difficult) and while Ken Daneyko was a great tough defensive player, I wouldn't go looking for his plaque in Toronto any time soon. 

I think this is as good a time as any to display my Brodeur collection.
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These are some recent base cards.  I haven't been buying new baseball very much in the last five years, so you can only imagine how much that my poor mistress hockey has been neglected.
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One subset I did pick up is this Hockey Heroes page; this one has been featured here before.
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I am a sucker for those Beehive sets, probably because of their elegant simplicity.  On the opposite end of that spectrum is that 2001 Atomic set, which is thick plastic die cut garish wonderfulness.  You'll see more of that card soon.
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As you can see, I bought a lot more hockey product in the late 90's. 
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Those rookie cards are just glorious not just because they are rookies but because they are the only ones I have of Martin in the old red and green Devils unis.  I hold those ugly things very close to my heart.

I find hockey inserts wonderful, probably because they always involve a ton of silver foil and shininess.
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There is a jersey card and some refractors in this scan but also an autograph and friend of mine was kind enough to pick up for me back in 1995.  That card also has red and green goodness, that card is basically Christmas.

See what I mean about silver and shine?
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The scan doesn't do some of these justice, they are blindingly bright.

Remember what I said about that 2001 Atomic card?
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Well, I have two variations of it, one if them is the numbered parallel (on the right) and the other is the promo card (left) which has slightly different cropping and extra die cutting. 

While I am not a huge fan of horizontal cards, they work well for hockey goalies. 
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That top right card is a motion insert when Topps and Upper Deck were going through some kind of Sportsflix phase in the late 90's.  Upper Deck should have stuck with die cuts and holograms, so gorgeously illustrated by that 1996 SPx card on the bottom left.  They really got those right the first time.

All of these cards have a shiny element in them that the scans do not show well.  That Stanley Cup card especially loses something. 
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Brodeur brought the Devils three cups in his day in 5 finals appearances.  The poor Blues haven't ever won one and haven't even been to the finals since the late 60's/1970, back when all the expansion teams were in one division and someone had to make the finals.  I will be silently rooting for a little late career miracle for them.

Speaking of a lack of shiny, you can't even see the refraction on that Finest card.  Pity.
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Brodeur is now 42, look how young he looks on that 1990 Score rookie card.  He's got his "I shave once a week whether I need to or not" mustache working there.  I truly hope this works out in a Oscar Robinson-on-the-Bucks or Ray Bourque-on-the-Avs sort of way and not in a Joe Montana-on-the-Chiefs or Willie Mays-on-the-Mets sort of way. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Day After.

       I hope you and yours had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving.  I trust you counted your blessings and gorged yourself to the point of explosion.  While obviously I enjoy the holiday's cavalcade of food and family, I find the day after Thanksgiving to be the better day (and it is certainly not because of any sort of sales or the like, I would rather jab rusty forks into both eyes before going to the mall today).  I love this particular Friday because it is one of the very few weekdays during the year it is acceptable and practically expected that you sit around in your pajamas, watch bad TV, and eat leftovers

All this brings us to the matter at hand, it was 30 years ago today (kinda) that Doug Flutie went from quirky curiosity to bonafide miracle worker.  Over the years, Flutie fashioned enough miracles to be named pope 100 times over, but you never forget the first.  I will always remember that game as long as I live; my brother and I sat and watched it on the day after Thanksgiving 1984 and became instant Doug Flutie converts.  The man could do no wrong and for 20+ years, he kept proving himself over and over and over when everyone doubted and counted him out. 

Over the years I have built up quite a collection of Flutie cards and I am going to take a moment between my pie for breakfast and my big honkin' sandwich for lunch to share them with you:
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Those top two cards perfectly celebrate the Hail Flutie, one the classic shot of him with his fist in the air, the other being embraced by his brother. 

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Flutie's first year in San Diego was the only time he was offered the chance to start all 16 games in a season in the NFL.  While not statistically his best season, I find this little tidbit hard to comprehend, given all his success otherwise.  It also didn't help that those Chargers were kinda short on receivers (no pun intended).

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Only in retrospect have I grown to appreciate Doug's time in San Diego for what it turned out to be: he mentored Drew Brees in the ways of both quarterbacking and overcoming the NFL's bias against shorter players at the position.  I doubt Drew Brees is nearly the player he is today without being a teammate of Doug Flutie for four years.

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The early aughts were quite the dichotomy of vintage and ultra-modern designs.  If something didn't look like it was made in the 1950's, it was covered in shiny baubles and chrome. 
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Did I mention that all of Flutie's second career in the NFL took place between the ages of 36 and 42?  During the time I have been trying to figure out how not to get winded walking up the stairs and/or dealing with my arthritic knee, Doug was reinventing himself as the scrappiest scrapper that ever scrapped.
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Of all Doug's regular issue cards, that 1999 Ultra card of him running in the snow is probably my favorite.  Then again, my love of snow cards is very well documented.
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While Pacific never made the best cards around, I do miss them just for all the quirks of their base set die cuts and garish over-the-top backgrounds.
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I never have decided upon a set way to order the base and chrome cards of a chronological player page. I am never ever consistent even within the same player.
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Then again, it was probably Upper Deck's sameness that was one of the contributing factors to them falling out of fashion with collectors.  Somewhere in between Pacific and Upper Deck, the truth lies.
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I think most of us have forgotten how big a deal it was when Flutie came back from Canada and played so well for Buffalo.  He was a goddamned cultural phenomenon for a little while.
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I think it also bears repeating that Buffalo has suffered a great curse because of the foolishness of Wade Phillips and the team higher ups.  For 2 years, Flutie led Buffalo to miracle win after miracle win, then they switched horses mid-stream and started the immortal Rob Johnson in their 1999 playoff game...
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...for whatever reason, be it money or stature, Johnson started that playoff game and the Bills got out-miracled and the Bills haven't played a playoff game since going on 15 seasons and counting. No one will ever be able to explain why Flutie didn't start that game but everyone in hindsight, even the coach himself, thinks it was a dumb move.  Yup.
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Not one but two cards on this page are see-thru acrylic.  The late 90's were such an interesting time for cards.
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Hmmmmmm, a few inserts seem to have leaked onto my player pages here, which are usually reserved for base cards and parallels.
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It is hard to tell with the reflection from the page, but that vertical Flair card is slightly miscut, with some white showing on the bottom. 
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and I am still trying to figure out what that little "2000" logo is on that Skybox Metal parallel is.  I take it back, the late 90's were frustrating as hell for cards.

I was really confused about that card with Doug in a red Bills jersey because I don't ever recall the Bills wearing red jerseys ever (I'm right) but then it dawned on me that that is a Pro Bowl uniform. 
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And look at that Pacific Invincible card in the middle, the scan does no justice to just how brash and bright and gloriously ugly that card is. 

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Nothing more exciting to depict on a football card than a press conference.

Sadly, I do not have many of Doug's cards from his days in Canada.  This seems outrageous since in the eight years he played there, he fashioned not only a hall of fame resume but he was named the greatest player in CFL history.  If any of my readers north of the border want to help remedy that, please email me.  Thanks.
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Those last five cards are from Doug's first go around in the NFL.  Turns out, winning did not trump Mike Ditka or Raymond Berry's notion that a quarterback should be 6'4".  Both of their coaching resume's (minus a fluky 1985) seem to bear out what that prejudice adds up to.

No player collection would be complete without a look at all the swatchy shiny goodness of the inserts.
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Here you see the only game used football card I have in my entire collection plus two more cards that show Doug's days in Boston College including the exact date of the Hail Flutie. 

Playoff liked the idea of Alma Mater Materials so much, they used the subset in two different years and seemed to capture Flutie in practically the same pose for both.
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These show some golden numbered parallels and a couple of vertical inserts.
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Honestly, I am not sure if Flutie or Kerry Collins ever lead the league in anything, but okay sure.

I am sure they must have made more cards of Doug's second go around in New England but that 'Revolution' parallel is the only thing I have that comes close.
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Plus, we all remember the last thing Doug did on a football field, right?

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There is an odd sameness about all that shiny and texture and lightning bolts.  Maybe it's because they all have Doug in the home blues?

Here we go, now we are getting a little kooky with die cuts, die cuts everywhere.
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I just noticed I scanned that Hard Hats insert upside down.  Who's in charge of the quality control on this blog?!?!

All of these cards are really shiny and none of them really scanned that way.  Pity.
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Here you see a pretty odd texture card called Net-Fusions, where the background is a piece of netting.  This effect kind of worked for hockey (and obviously was best used for basketball) and they sort of shoe-horned it into baseball as part of the foul pole but I am at a loss as to how it applies to football, unless they want to include the net that catches the football after kicks.  Maybe there is a good reason Pacific is long gone. 
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The last three cards here are his USFL rookie card and a couple more Canadian cards, though I just realized the blue one is a double. 

I am gonna end with a direct window to the Hail Mary play in case you don't click through my links. Even 30 years later, I am not tired of watching it.  I doubt I ever will be.