Tuesday, February 21, 2017

2016-2017 Panini Complete Basketball Cards

I enjoyed last year's Complete Basketball cards and really looked forward to this year's offering but had had a hard time finding them.  Finally snagged some of these low end cards from Panini.  I'm not quite as taken with this year's cards but I still like them.  They seem to be of a heavier stock this year.  This design is nice and the photos good.  Not sure why they don't hit me like last years.  It is something I can't put my hand on.  Still, for the price, these are good cards.  Grabbed one insert, the Kevin Love away game card jersey and two colored parallels.  This is a huge set with 400 cards.  Great for collectors but can also mean star players are tough to find.  I did grab an Anthony Davis parallel and two Kevin Love cards so I can't complain too much.  Again good cards and won't doubt that I'll grab more at some point.  
  

Thursday, February 16, 2017

La La Land the Movie


I saw La La Land.  There, I admit it.  It is out there.  I kid.  My youngest daughter, who is 16, and I spent a day together last month and saw the movie.  She was so excited when I asked if she wanted to see it on our day out.  To be honest I liked the movie.  It stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as aspiring artists in Hollywood who meet and a fairy tale romance ensues.   I’m not going to break down the movie or give any long winded review but if you are at all inclined to think you would like this movie I say watch it.  While I’m not a big musical guy, there are a few that I truly enjoy like The Sound of Music, Grease, and of course my all-time favorite – Rock of Ages.  Don’t get me started.  So again La La Land is a good movie and I wanted to give it some props.  Most importantly, I had a great day with my youngin.    

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Atlanta Falcons 2016 - Now I can appreciate it.

Devonta Freeman
While Atlanta’s Super Bowl loss still stings I’m definitely ready to move on and look back at the great season the Falcons had this year.  It was a pleasant surprise that ended with Atlanta being oh so close to winning it all.  When the Falcons dropped to 7-4 after a devastating loss to Kansas City I really wondered where the season was headed.  While they were still in good shape for a playoff spot they just didn’t have the feel of a world beater.   Then they won four games to finish 11-5 and you saw things clicking as they landed the number two seed.   In the playoffs they hit their stride and their defense took it to another level.  Their number two seed allowed them to skip the wild card round and play at home against Seattle and Green Bay.   Atlanta looked like a Super Bowl contender in both games just as they did for just over two quarters in the Super Bowl.

Julio Jones
Matt Ryan and the offense were historically good.  He deserved the MVP trophy he brought home, the first in Falcons team history.  Devonta Freeman had another 1,000 yard season on the ground while catching 54 balls.  Tevin Coleman is a great compliment and the running game as a whole averaged an outstanding 4.6 yards per carry.  Julio Jones who has always been a stud was able to show off his stuff on the big stage in the playoffs and Super Bowl.  He is right there with A.J. Green as the premier wide receiver in the league.  I know little guy Taylor Gabriel gets more press but free agent Mohamed Sanu probably made the biggest difference in the receiving corps.  Atlanta needed a number two receiver badly and he gave the Falcons exactly what they were looking for.  Speaking of free agents the biggest pick up was center Alex Mack who solidified the offensive line (which had the same starting five for every game including the playoffs) ensuring plays could develop and provide solid blocking for the running game.

Matt Ryan
There is definitely hope for next year.  While getting back to the Super Bowl is against the odds you have to think this team has what it takes to do it.  The defense will get back their top cornerback in Desmond Trufant who was out after week 9 with injuries.  That side of the ball will have to restock some due to some players expected to leave but nothing that can’t be overcome.  The loss of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan may be the biggest blow to this team.  Steve Sarkisian will replace him but it is hard to tell how that will affect  the offense.  He is definitely an unknown in the NFL.

For now I’ll sit back and appreciate the season that was.  They don’t come around too often  unless your teams is named the Patriots.  Tons of great stuff to like and much to look forward to next season.  Now I just need to order that NFC Championship hoodie…        

     

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

2017 NFL Hall of Fame Class

Over the weekend the 2017 NFL Hall of Fame Class was announced with LaDainian Tomlinson, Kurt Warner, Terrell Davis, Kenny Easley, Jason Taylor, Morten Andersen and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones announced as the most recent inductees.  

LaDainianTomlinson – Definitely my favorite inductee out of this class.  He was a great running back who was also a great receiver out of the backfield.  I loved watching him play for San Diego and he is truly deserving of getting into the Hall on the first ballot.
Kurt Warner – This guy could sling it.  I think he is one of those guys who despite a relatively short career has the resume for the Hall.  He took two teams to three Super Bowls while throwing for a ton of yards efficiently and racking up some monster years. 
Terrell Davis – Davis’ short career always made it tough on voters and even me.  But he was truly great even if he only had four effective years.  Those years, though, were outstanding – 1117, 1538, 1750 and 2008 yards while averaging a whopping 4.8 yards per carry during that timeframe before injuries limited him to 17 more games over three seasons. 
Kenny Easley – One of my favorite hard hitters from when I was a kid.  Glad to see him make it.
Jason Taylor – I kind of overlooked Taylor.  I was surprised at his sack totals, 139.5 good for 7th all-time, but I do remember him being a force throughout his career. 

Morten Anderson – You can say what you want about kickers but they do deserve a place in the Hall and Anderson deserves his enshrinement.  A look at his stats will show you he is at the top or near the top in totals for kickers all-time in multiple categories.  And he was the all-time leading scorer for two different teams.  wow
Jerry Jones – Love ‘em or hate ‘em, he has done much to influence the NFL even if it is just due to the debates he starts.   

Monday, February 6, 2017

Falcons Collapse Gives New England Super Bowl Championship

I
am not at a loss for words but I am beyond shocked at how the Atlanta Falcons lost to the New England Patriotsin Super Bowl LI.  I am a Falcons fan but I’m very much grounded and at no time was I comfortable with the score even with a 28-3 lead or even with the score 28-9 early in the fourth quarter.  Did some happy thoughts go through my head?  Oh yes but I know how great Tom Brady can be.  Still Atlanta lost this game in what will go down as an epic collapse by a team who all but had the Super Bowl won when they went up 28-3.

You have to question, and the Falcons and Atlanta fans will forever question, the play calling and play in general in the second half of the game.  With 2:06 left in the third the Patriots scored to make it a 28-9 game and tried a failed onside kick.  The Falcons had the ball at the New England 41 and promptly got it to the 32 yard line.  A holding penalty and sack later they were back to the Atlanta 49 and out of field goal position.  FAIL 

After a Patriots field goal Matt Ryan fumbles on a 3rd and 1 play from the shotgun.  Why don’t you run the ball?  Your running game has been excellent all day and you only need one yard.  Not committing a turnover and keeping the clock running should be the number one priority.  FAIL 

New England got withing eight points late in the game but Atlanta had managed to get to the Patriot twenty-two yard line thanks to a spectacular catch by Julio Jones.  After a rush for a loss of one Matt Ryan is sacked on the next play.    Then a penalty on the next play moves the ball to the NE 45 before Matt Ryan throws an incomplete pass on third down.  There was 4:40 left in the game when Jones made his catch.  Why don’t you just run three times, kick the field goal and win the game?  Their running game had been great and even if you don’t get any positive yards you have a very makeable field goal chance and have either forced New England to use timeouts or you burn time off the clock.  Heck, just take a knee three times.  Yes a touchdown is great and you want to run your game plan but passing the ball provides more opportunity for bad things to happen.  Know the situation.  FAIL

Again second guessing will haunt the franchise forever.  For a team who had played so well in the playoffs up until the third quarter they did everything wrong after that to allow New England back into that game.  One talking head after the game stated it best by saying (paraphrasing) Atlanta had “horrible game situational awareness” late in the game.  It really was horrible.  You have to look at the play calling and Matt Ryan’s inability to get rid of the ball, taking sacks and his fumble.  In a vacuum those aren’t the only reasons they lost but those are the ones Falcons’ fans are getting ulcers over today.
The defense had a very good pass rush in the first half rushing just four as the announcers pointed out.  So when the pass rush disappeared in the second half and Brady was shredding their secondary why didn’t Atlanta blitz?  You have to try something right?  They weren’t able to stop the passing game late.  Again you have to look at the coaches to help here.  The defense was on the field a ton and I would think they were tired.   So at least try something different scheme wise.  Why just watch them fail time and time again?

New England, to their credit, did everything they had to mount their historic comeback which was not easy mind you.  In doing so they had 93 plays in this game compared to the Falcons 46 while dominating the time of possession with 40:31.  Reference:  teams average between 59 and 75 per game.  While the offense faltered early in the game it came on with a vengeance in the latter stages.  The defense also came through and were able to get to Matt Ryan and held Atlanta to seven points in the second half.  New England deserved to win this game. They were the better team and should get all the credit coming their way.  Brady deserves his title of greatest of all-time and Bill Belichick deserves to be looked at in the same light.  And that Edelman catch?  How?  What?    

I had to type this all out.  It is my therapy.  I have always told folks that if my team makes it to the championship game I’d prefer a blowout no matter what the outcome.  Why suffer?  And last night was the worst case scenario.  The mental terrorism that was that fourth quarter can never be forgotten.  I’ll be fine.  I’m an adult and can deal with this stuff but man why did the Falcons have to make it this tough?  And that Julio Jones catch should be the one seen over and over for years to come but will not be largely forgotten. 
 

2016 - 2017 Panini NBA Stickers

Grabbed a pack of the Panini NBA 2016-2017 stickers.  These are always fun and this year I really liked the design of the stickers.  I would have loved to have seen the playoff and all-star designs incorporated into the regular set.  The base design was also nice.  But I think for me I love all-star cards that have photos from the actual all-star game.  While the player's photo is set against a special background their photos are from the game.  That is awesome.  We need more of that in trading cards from all the different sports.    Pretty cool stuff.  After being somewhat disappointed last year I really like these. 
  Breakdown:
7 - stickers
2 - base design cards
2 - foil cards
2 - all-star cards
1 - playoff series card

Sunday, February 5, 2017

2017 Topps Baseball Cards

The 2017 Topps baseball cards were released this week and I always look forward to their release.  I picked up two 36 card packs.  These are nice looking cards with the graphics at the bottom and lower left of the fronts.  They contain a nice team logo, the player's name, team name and position.  The photos, which are always the highlights of these cards, were excellent as always. 
  The backs of the cards are colored in the team's colors.  I like that.  Otherwise it is definitely a solid effort with the stats we are used to from Topps.
Topps again has league leader cards which I'm a big fan of.  Great to see Topps keeping these cards in their sets. 
I received two of the 1987 Topps baseball inserts - Frank Thomas and Ken Griffey Jr.  These cards look and feel just like the original issued cards.  These are nice cards which I liked.  The award winner cards are nice but nothing special.  I liked the first pitch cards as they are always fun.
Bowman Then and Now & Two Checklist Cards
I like these cards.  They have great photography and a pretty good mix of base cards and inserts/subsets.  Fun way to start the year and is what gets me thinking about the upcoming baseball season...well I will after the Super Bowl tonight.   
 

Breakdown:
72 - total cards
43 - base cards
8 - league leaders
4 - award winners
4 - team cards
4 - rookie cards (RC)
3 - rated rookie (one also had the RC designation)
2 - 1987 baseball
2 - checklist cards
1 - Bowman then and now
1 - first pitch