Tuesday, May 31, 2016

2016 Topps WWE Trading Cards

Grabbed a small pack of the 2016 Topps WWE wrestling cards.  You can see my other reviews of wrestling cards here.  Not bad looking card fronts with good photos. The backs are pretty simple with a write-up and minimal wrestler info.  
The two insert cards were ok with one being Sting on the Authority Database card.
Again I like these.  As always you like to see more of the stars or retro cards in the pull but I like the design and photos enough to give this a thumbs up.  Also pulled three Divas which is always a good thing. 

7 - Total Cards
1 - NXT
1 - Authority Database 

Monday, May 30, 2016

2016 Score Football Cards

Grabbed two packs of the 2016 Score Football trading cards.   Somehow I ended up with 28 cards from the two packs though each pack was supposed to only contain 12 cards each.  Haven't found a reason that explains the discrepancy but I'm not putting too much effort into it.  There are also 40 card packs at retail outlets.  
The base cards are nice if not spectacular.  The fronts have the requisite name, position, team name, team logo, and the Score logo.  Photos are pretty good.  Rookie cards have an RC in place of the team logo as the players hadn't been drafted yet.  Score has the license to use the college teams logos on the helmets which is always nice.  I do like the backs.  The photo on the front is again on the back with about 1/3 actually being shown. Standard write-up information, last years and career total stats, player info and team logo also adorn the back.  I like it.  It isn't groundbreaking but a nice setup and plenty of color.
I pulled five different insert types totaling 8 of the 28 cards.  Only the Randall Cobb Chain Reaction card really stood out but they are all decent cards. For the pull itself it was ok at best.  No big stars among the base cards but I did pick up a Tom Brady on the Sidelines card.  I'm a Brady guy so I'll take it but would have liked to see a little more star power in the base set.  Overall a nice set and at the price point (which I can't remember) I'm sure I'll grab more throughout the year.  There also seem to be quite a few higher end inserts but I didn't get any of course.  If you like football cards these are definitely worth picking up at least one pack.  

28 - Total Cards (2 Packs)
20 - Base Cards (6 RC)
3 - Franchise
2 - Chain Reaction
1 -Toe the Line
1 - Sidelines
1 - Signal Callers

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Martian the Movie Review

Awesomeness. I just saw the movie The Martian over the weekend and I'm so glad I did.  I have to thank my wife who was high on this movie from the time it came out.  She loved the movie and kept pushing for me to see it.  This weekend we watched it.  Before seeing it I was thinking instead of Tom Hanks marooned on an island we'd be watching Matt Damon marooned on a planet.  While to some extent that is true that is where the similarities end.   At this point I'll call SPOILER ALERT just in case.  I know the movie has been out a while but still wouldn't want to spoil it for someone.  They did a great job with Matt Damon's character.  He really does makes the movie.  You can't help to root for him.  He is funny and doesn't give up.  The movie doesn't just center on his character though.  There is plenty of screen time for the ground crew and the mission crew that leaves him on Mars when a storm hits threatening the entire crew.  Damon's character does a great job surviving and working through all the issues as he prepares for the rescue NASA is working.  Like anything that would be this complicated there are issues that help keep up the tension and pace.  In the end Damon is rescued and all is good.  It is nowhere so simplistic.  There is tons in the movie for you to enjoy from beginning to end.  They did a great job ensuring folks wouldn't get bored or believe this would this is a plain old "marooned" storyline.  If you haven't seen this movie you should and don't hesitate.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Star Wars: Dark Disciple (SPOILER ALERT)

SPOILERS:  I read the book Star Wars:  Dark Disciple.  The books centers around Jedi Master Quinlan Voss and Assajj Ventress, former dark side assassin for Sith Lord Count Dooku.  The Jedi Council assigns Voss to assonate Dooku by partnering with Ventress.  In doing so Voss ends up going to the dark side and actually partnering up with Dooku for a time.  While working with Ventress, Voss and she fall in love.  Twists and turns ensue with Obi-Wan Kenobi playing a good sized part in the book as does the Jedi Council.  The council must enlist help from Ventress in saving or returning Voss after he has turned. Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker are also sent to return Vos with orders that basically state he didn't have to come back alive anticipating that would not be possible.  Obi-Wan was hesitant with the order to kill Dooku and again with having to kill Vos, thinking it was not how the Jedi should act.  In the effort to bring back Vos, Vos and Dooku are actually apprehended but escape and during the fighty fighty thatfollows Ventress is killed saving Vos.  Vos for his part doesn't take revenge on Dooku renouncing the Dard Side, again siding with the light side of the force.  Dooku of course escapes.  In the aftermath Vos is
rehabilitated and rejoins the Jedi.  

I enjoyed the book while I did disagree with some plot points.  The decision to assassinate Dooku seemed to come too easily.  Also Vos, a Jedi Master seemed to embrace the Dark Side (albeit the small taste he had) while training with Ventress and falling in love.  He was then ready to leave the Jedi Order.  It just happened too quickly.  While under Dooku's control he was tortured and held for a long period of time and I can get how the dark side crept in.  It seemed he was with Ventress for a short period of time.
I get how love turns a man and the two of them do make a good pair but he was a Jedi Master.  That said I liked their affair and would have liked seeing them continue the relationship (assuming she hadn't been killed) in future novels.  Otherwise the book was good.  I like the glimpses into the Jedi Council and their discussions.  We don't see enough of these.  While they are all Jedi Masters they aren't always going to agree and I like knowing how decisions happen.  The book covers most bases with  comedy, drama, action and a love story.  I think most fans  would enjoy this book. 

Both Voss and Ventress are popular in the Star Wars universe.  I like both characters though I am not as knowledgeable on their histories as I should be.  Voss came to be popular in a series of comic books in the Legends era of books.  Ventress is widely known through the Clone Wars cartoons and her sparring with Obi-Wan.  Vos has a great look and personality.  I was disappointed that Ventress died.  Actually I was shocked.  I thought she was one of those characters that would be around for a really long time and that this was would launch her into new forays in the Star Wars Canon.  Maybe new books, future cartoons, comic books, who knows. Sadly that won't be.  I am hoping we'll see more of Vos.  Again he is a likable character who I think they could do great things with.  His looks round out his character which I think could be extremely popular in my opinion.  

Monday, May 23, 2016

2016 Bowman Baseball Cards

Base Card, Base Parallel (Metallic?), Prospect
Grabbed a jumbo pack of the 2016 Bowman baseball cards.  This set is a dream for prospect guys.  21 of the 35 cards were prospects.  I'm not a huge prospect guy so I'm so-so on this set but I'm always willing to give cards a try.  The base cards are nice looking cards.  Nice sized team logos, the player's position, Bowman logo, player name and "1st Bowman" on appropriate cards dot the fronts.  The photos are good but don't seem to live up to the standard Topps baseball cards.  Those photos just seem to pop.  The backs are nice if not special.  There is some color and the write-ups are a bit different.

I have a Sonny Gray metallic card?  I assume that is what it is. Silver would have been my second guess but those are numbered.  The chrome and yellow parallels add some color but didn't necessarily enhance the set for me.  Not really a pack of stars though with prospects you have to play the waiting game.  Maybe in five years I will know better whether that statement is correct or not.   

Bowman Scout's Top 100, Prospect Yellow Parallel, Prospect Chrome Parallel
I will definitely look for some of the base cards but probably won't grab any more packs.  Very nice design on these cards so I wouldn't mind seeing some of my favorite players that are captured in the set.

35 Total Cards
14 Base Cards (1 Metallic)
20 Prospect Cards (6 Chrome Parallels, 5 Yellow Parallels)
1 Bowman Scout's Top 100

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Atlanta Braves Fire Manager Fredi Gonzalez

The Atlanta Braves fired Fredi Gonzalez Tuesday after the Braves started the season 9-28 already 13.5 games out of first place.  It was no secret this team would not be that good but this is not even close to what Atlanta had in mind.  It isn't Gonzalez's fault but I get why the team wanted to do something instead of just standing pat.  The timing of the firing is bad as they were in the middle of a road trip.  I'm thinking they may have been able to wait six more games and fire him after the team returned to Atlanta.  But the leadership thought it was time so they did what they had to.  To add injury to insult Gonzalez received an e-mail Monday night confirming his Tuesday flight back to Atlanta.  This was BEFORE he was notified he was fired.  That is a fail by Atlanta management.  Still the only surprise here was the timing. Gonzalez was 434-413 as the Braves' manager and I think he did a good job overall getting the Braves to the playoffs two times.  I've heard nothing but things about Fredi during his tenure with Atlanta.  Hopefully he'll find a good landing spot.  I think he deserves it.  Hopefully Atlanta doesn't go cheap and can bring in somebody of quality to turn things around.  I'd hate to see them go cheap now and waste an opportunity as they move into a new stadium next year.  As a fan I have hope.  There is always hope. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Rougned Odor (Texas Rangers) - Jose Bautista (Toronto Blue Jays) Dust-Up

Suspensions came down for the recent Rougned Odor-Jose Bautista dust-up.  While fighting in and of itself is not a good thing it is somewhat excepted or even expected.  And fighting may be too harsh a description.  Many of these altercations are little more than players posturing with little to no harm done.  But this was a fight with a real-deal, no kidding punch landed squarely to the jaw of Jose Bautista.  Nice.  It was a doozy.   I can't say I've seen a better punch in a baseball brawl.  It wasn't at the Kermit Washington level of brutal punch (NBA, circa 1977) but it was well done and is one that will be remembered, and referenced for a very long time. 

I enjoy fights in sports.  Again I understand fighting is bad and don't ever want to see someone seriously hurt or their career altered as like what happened with the Washington punch. But sports is emotional and these things happen. Again most times it is a bunch of posturing with not much actually happening.  Hockey has made it an art.  One of baseballs most famous is the ageless Nolan Ryan and Robin Ventura.  As famous as that was there were no real injuries from that melee.  

So while most are enjoying this moment it definitely could have been looked at in a different light.  If Bautista went down and was seriously hurt there'd be nothing more than condemnation towards Rougned.  So it is a fine line we walk with fights in sports.  I'll give this one a grade of "A".  That well placed punch was something you rarely see in any sport not called boxing. 

Rougned Odor - 8 Games
Jose Bautista - 1 Game
Elivs Andrus - 1 Game
John Gibbons - 3 Games
Jesse Chavez - 3 Games

P.S. Was it pretty lame that Texas waited until late in the Sunday game to hit Bautista?  If you are going to do it, do it first game of the series and let it play out.  Be man enough to deal with the repercussions.  My two cents.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Portland Signs Terry Stotts to 3 Year Extension

Reports say that the Portland Trail Blazers and Terry Stotts have agreed to a 3 year contract extension.  He was there biggest priority going into the offseason.  He is 182-146 in four seasons with Portland and has been heralded for the outstanding year Portland had this season after losing four of their five starters last offseason.  He's taken the Trail Blazers to the playoffs in three of four seasons, twice getting to the second round.  This is a great move by Portland.  Stotts has done a great job with this team and I'm hoping that with some tweaks to the roster next year will be even better. 

NBA Conference Finals

Oklahoma City vs Golden State – After their surprising dispatching of the Spurs, the Oklahoma City Thunder look to be a worthy opponent for the Golden State Warriors.  They were before that but their ability to defend and befuddle San Antonio makes you wonder how far they can go.  But how does that equate to a series against the Warriors?  OKC advanced to the Western Conference Finals with the help of a more traditional looking lineup including bigs Steven Adams and Enes Kanter playing a huge part.  Much discussion goes to how those bigs translate to what we expect to be a small Golden State lineup.  This works both ways.  While those bigs should have a difficult time playing defense against a shooting heavy offense of smaller players it would seem Golden State would struggle when those same big men were on offense.  Personally I’d rather play up on all the Warriors’ shooters and make them take mid-range jumpers which are only worth two points each or drive to the hoop in the hopes that the bigs can get to the basket in time to make a defensive play.  

Golden State will probably just play their game no matter who is on the floor against them.  Their shooters and offensive play stretches defenses to the breaking point making the bigs tough to leave out on the floor.  Doesn’t mean they can’t be beaten with bigs though.  Still the Warriors have shown they are the team to beat and pretty good at finding their shot, and making it, while playing excellent defense on the other end to compliment the effort.  I don’t see them losing this series but Oklahoma City should give them a nice run and challenge in most games though there will be a blowout somewhere in the series.  Golden State:  4-2

Toronto vs Cleveland – Toronto has not had a good first two rounds.  Kyle Lowry and Demarr Derozan have struggled finding little to no consistency hence two seven game series so far for them.  Still they won against Miami after losing Jonas Valaciunas for the series.  If they can get him back healthy I do think he can be a difference maker. Toronto still needs to get more from basically everyone to have any chance of making this a real series.  This team has been so frustrating to watch.  They’ve given up huge leads, played horribly in the last minutes of games and been lacking on defense.  Unless they can play like their regular season selves I am at a loss as to how they could even make this series interesting. 

Cleveland looks like world beaters right now and some would pick them against Golden State right now.  And why not?   They are shooting like they are Golden State East and with all three of their stars healthy they are tough to shut down.  You might be able to double one of them but you still have two guys on the floor who can win games.  LeBron is still playing big minutes in the playoffs (38 per game) but Kyrie Irving is shooting almost as many shots and Kevin Love is right behind them.  While Love can’t seem to make a two point shot he is hitting 44% of his threes (almost eight a game) but he is still bested by Irving who is hitting 53% of his three point shots (over 6 a game).  LeBron’s outside shot isn’t falling anywhere close to that but Irving, Love and the rest of the team is shooting so well he in’t needed at the three point line and should be able to take advantage of open lanes to the basket.  Cleveland:  4-0