Wednesday, August 16, 2017

2016 Panini Rookie and Stars Football Cards

Found a random pack of the 2016 Panini Rookies and Stars football cards.  It looks like I haven't grabbed these before.  Nice pack of cards (10). Definitely had star power with cards of Le'Veon Bell, Drew Brees, Von Miller, Peyton Manning and LeSean McCoy.  Design is pretty good and the backs are nice and colorful.  I pulled two inserts with the Manning Standing Ovation and McCoy Power Tools.  Neither do a whole lot for me but I also can't find anything to complain about.  Nice cards and I'm glad I picked up a pack.   
 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Bacon Spam - It's Real and It's Good


Bacon Spam.  It is a real thing and I’m here to tell you it is good.  Is it good for you?  Probably not but that hasn’t stopped me before.  It contains real bacon which helps the taste.  I make up breakfast for work days so I put this in with some eggs and it is perfect.  I already was in the mode of using regular Spam for that purpose but now I have bacon Spam.  If you already enjoy Spam this may be for you.  If not it may be a good jumping on point.  Seems as though people either don’t like Spam or they do like Spam.  Not a lot of in between.  The link has the ingredients/nutritional facts.  Just thought I’d throw this out there to those who may want to partake. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

2017 Panini Classics Football Cards

Picked up some of the 2017 Panini Classics football cards.  There were 10 cards in the pack and these aren't that expensive.  I always love retro but I have to admit other than the retired players that are featured there hasn't been much to this brand that really thrills me.  I do think they have a decent design but there is something about these cards that just don't do it for me.  My pull wasn't bad, highlighted by Ezekiel Elliott.  I do like the Super Bowl Heroes insert and wouldn't mind chasing that set.  Again the legends, which number 100 of the 300 card base set, are the attraction for me.  Good chance I'll grab more of these for that fact alone.  Otherwise I'd probably hold off.  This is definitely a personal choice and I think most folks might enjoy them more than me.   

 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

2017 Topps Star Wars 40th Anniversary Trading Cards Hobby Box Plus Some

I love these cards!  I'd been looking forward to the Topps 40th Anniversary Trading Cards and they are great.  I used some birthday money some months back and grabbed a hobby box, a blaster, and single packs.  I was in heaven. 
 
This set covers it all - the movies, cartoons, video games, action figures, art, comic books, books, DVD/Blu-Ray releases, movie posters from around the world, toys.  What didn't they include? 
 
There are buybacks, medallions, autographs, film cells, stickers, parallels and more as inserts.
I pulled a Mike Quinn (Sy Snootles) autograph.  Not the sexiest of all the different autos you can grab but I'm not complaining. 
My favorites were movie poster cards.  There were posters from all the movies from around the world.  Most I'd never seen and really thought these were too cool. 
Having this set cover so many different aspects of the Star World universe is wonderful.  They all bring back so many memories and just make me geek out all over again.
These are some of my favorite card scenes.  The Darth Maul fight scene in Episode I is still my all-time favorite from the movies involving the Sith and Jedi.  The classic "I know" scene on Cloud City always bring a smile even if it wasn't under the best of circumstances.  I thought it had great visuals and was of course a pivotal part of the movie.  The arena fight on Geonosis was great in that it showed so many Jedi at one time fighting.  I still like going back and looking at this scene and researching the different Jedi who were featured. 
To be honest I can live without medallions...
The set was even able to inlclude scenes from The Force Awakens.
I'll definitely be working to collect the entire set.  This is by far my favorite card set from the Star Wars movies.  I'm already a huge fan and these are exactly what I've been waiting for - though I didn't really even know it.
 
 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

2017 Topps Stadium Club

Picked up a few packs of the 2017 Topps Stadium Club baseball cards.  As always you get a little higher price tag, heavier stock, nice design, colorful back of the card, and great photography.  These came 12 to a pack priced at $5.98.  Again a little expensive for my taste but I'm rarely disappointed by this brand.  I enjoyed my pull as well grabbing a few Braves and Red Sox players to include Chipper Jones.  Randy Johnson and Andres Galarraga were the other retired players I grabbed.
  The inserts/parallels in the two packs I opened were a Scoreless Streak and Buster Posey Chrome Gold Minted parallel.  Not sure how many are made of each of the Chrome Gold Parallel but it is a nice looking card.  Overall I like the simple, unobtrusive design and great photographs.  The backs are also nice and colorful with a second photo different from the front.  I'll definitely look for singles from this set and I don't doubt I'll also pick up a few more packs in the coming months as these are some nice cards. 
 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

War Machine Movie


War Machine is the 2017 Netflix movie that centers on General Glen McMahon who takes over the war in Afghanistan.  This is a satirical look at General Stanley McChrystal who took charge of the Afghan war in 2009.  Pitt’s character, while sincere in his belief that the war can be won, doesn’t always utilize great judgement.  McMahon and his staff try their best but it is a losing cause that is ultimately doomed when Rolling Stone is allowed to follow them for a story.  Laying out the details of their private conversations leads to McMahon’s firing.  This movie lays out all the issues leaders must deal with in the political and military minefields when navigating the different arenas .  Brad Pitt, Ben Kingsley (Afghanistan President) and the rest of the cast do a very good job.  The movie is enjoyable and while it is maybe not as based in comedy as you might be led to believe it still delivers an entertaining movie. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Dunkirk Movie

Me and my pop watched Dunkirk last night.  Very good movie.  Based on real-world events, it follows efforts to evacuate 300,000 British Army personnel from France after it fell to the Germans.  The three phases of the operation, air, naval and ground, are followed giving you a good feel for what went into making it happen.  The plot and action are pretty straightforward in their presentation laying out the issues the British had in attempting to retrieve their soldiers while also looking at the real possibility that England itself could suffer the same fate as France. 
I am not sure how to describe it properly but this movie isn’t over acted.  They do act but the dialogue doesn’t get in the way of the story.  The action and actual situations are allowed to play out keeping up the suspense that seems to grow as the movie goes along.  Dunkirk has a different feel than most movies in a good way.  I think if the premise is something you think you might like you definitely go see this movie. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

2011 Topps Opening Day Baseball Hobby Box Break

I didn't reconnect with card collecting until late 2011 so I missed out on the 2011 Topps Baseball Opening Day Cards.  I did however get into the 2011 Topps Football cards, and those in fact were my first post on trading cards.  Over time I've come to like this design even more.  The photos on the cards are also first rate, a trait I've seen consistently with Topps cards.  This all led me to grab a hobby box for some fun.  The box had 36 packs with seven cards per pack.   
 I like the Opening Day cards due to the reduced checklist size as well as a good price point.  I know some don't care for them due to the lack of real hits but I like them. The memories are also a big part of boxes like this.  Seeing what players that were once big as compared to today or seeing players on different teams.  All part of the fun.  
There were plenty of inserts.  My favorites were the Superstar Celebrations and Presidential First Pitch cards.  These add a nice variety to the set as a whole.  I really enjoyed these cards and given the chance to get more I'll definitely do it.  It was fun to grab a box from the past that I've never been able to experience before.  Great stuff.

BREAKDOWN:
252 - Total Cards
9 - Superstar Celebrations
7 - Blue Parallels
6 - Topps Town
6 - Presidential First Pitch
6 - Spot the Error
5 - Opening Day Date Stamped
4 - Under the Lights
3 - Opening Day Stars (3D)

   

Monday, July 3, 2017

Paul George Traded to Oklahoma City Thunder


Paul George was traded this weekend to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.  What a steal for the Thunder.  While it is doubtful George resigns with the Thunder, they didn’t really give up anything.  I like Oladipo but was surprised that he couldn’t average more than 15.9 points per game in an offense that lost Kevin Durant.  This was a perfect opportunity for him to step up and it didn’t happen.  Sabonis was a rookie last year who didn’t put up very good numbers (5.9 PPG/3.6 RPG 39% FG%) but is still young at 20 years old.  The Indiana Pacers were in a horrible spot and it was getting worse by the day.  Still, you had to think there was a better trade out there somewhere.  Hopefully Oladipo and Sabonis thrive in Indiana and it is a moot point. 

What does OKC get out of the deal?  Three things.  They show Russell Westbrook, a free agent after this season, they are working to make the team more competitive.  They have a better chance of resigning Paul George where they had a very slim chance of landing him in 2018 free agency before the trade.  And the Thunder mustbe viewed as the possible number two team in the Western Conference.  The Spurs have not done anything to get better, Houston did Chris Paul but Clippers are not expected to be as good next year.  You have to think a team with basically just Russel Westbrook that won 47 teams last year has a shot with George.  Are they are a threat to the Warriors?  No.  But if they could make it to the Conference Finals this would be a huge win.  A lot of basketball games between now and then and then they have to hope they can keep one or two of their superstars.  Still this was a very good trade for the Thunder. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Matt Adams Excels - Freddie Freeman to Third Base?

Matt Adams
In May the Atlanta Braves traded for Matt Adams giving up a low level prospect.  Adams is filling in for Freddie Freeman while he is on the disabled list.  All indications were that Adams would be traded at the deadline once Freeman was available to return.  Adams has outperformed his past numbers putting up a .299/.354/.634 stat line in 34 games for the Braves.  You couldn’t ask for much more.  That said, this team is still not that good and will celebrate if they can hold on to second place in the division but they aren’t even looking like a .500 team yet.  I would think they’ll still be in “sell” mode come the trading deadline adding players who can provide help at need positions.     

But there are now rumors that Freddie Freeman may move to third base to allow Adams to stay in Atlanta and in the starting lineup.  This is where I get worried.  While Adams’ play is a big surprise, moving Freddie Freeman to third base seems like a huge risk.  He is a stud  on a long term contract and the face of the franchise.  Moving him to a position that is more difficult defensively makes me worry that any struggles he may have in the field would bleed over to his appearances at the plate.  He played the position in high school but that was some time ago. 

Atlanta really needs to think this through.  Is Matt Adams really the Braves have seen in limited time
Freddie Freeman
or is he the guy St. Louis traded away due to a .271/.315/.453 stat line while striking out every 4.3 plate appearances in 486 games with St. Louis?  It obviously puts the Braves in a bind.  You don’t want to get rid of a guy playing this well but I think they need to look at the possible consequence.  I have nothing against Matt Adams but I’d rather have Freeman at first and hitting well and use Adams as a nice trade chip.  There are plenty of needs on this team so there is no reason to keep him if he won’t start.  For now I’ll hope he keeps hitting and Atlanta can find a team needing a 1B or DH come the trade deadline. 

 

 

 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Skillet's New (ish) Album Unleashed is a Great Hard Rocking Listen

I’m still a CD guy and purchased Skillet’s Unleashed album after getting hooked on their single Feel Invincible.  Whether online or in the car I’ve listened to Feel Invincible over and over -  a lot.  I’ve listened to the entire album many times now and I’m really enjoying it.  This takes me back to their Awake album with how easy it is to listen to the entire CD.  Feel Invincible made it to #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, their first ever to chart at #1.  It has also been used by some of the major sports leagues as part of promos and advertising.  The single Back from the Dead is featured as part of Marvel Comics’ ad campaign for their Monster’s Unleashed comic book series while the song Stars is featured on the soundtrack for the movie “The Shack”.  I missed an opportunity to see Skillet live earlier this year and I’m really kicking myself.        

I describe Skillet’s sound as driving rock –energy willing you forward with a head banging enthusiasm.  They’ve had big albums in the past with Comatose and Awake though their last album Rise didn’t have quite the same success.  Comatose brought Skillet to prominence in the rock scene with the help of singles Whispers in the Dark, Rebirthing, and Comatose leading the way.  The album Awake had their biggest hits prior to this album in Hero, Monster and Awake and Alive.  I can’t get into technical nuances of music but I know what I like and this album is very good.  If you like this album definitely check out Comatose and Awake.  Skillet is a Christian rock band but don’t let that scare you away.  This is an excellent album that should be listened to if you enjoy rock. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Atlanta Hawks Trade Dwight Howard


The Atlanta Hawks traded Dwight Howard and the number 31 pick to the Charlotte Hornets for Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli and the number 41 pick.  The Dwight Howard signing didn’t look good before last season and it didn’t look any better after the season.  Howard never seemed a fit for their offense and his signing contributed to the loss of Al Horford in free agency and Horford was a much better fit.  Howard finished the year with a 13.5 PPG, 12.7 RPG, 1.2 BPG stat line while logging just under 30 minutes per game.   

 I like Dwight Howard and he deserves tons of praise for a great career.  But if you don’t have a team of shooters around him, his offense which consists of playing around the rim is very limiting.  He’s still a very efficient scorer shooting 63% from the field but he works better with a spread offense.  A movement oriented offense needing a big that can shoot is not his thing.  Howard is only 31 and I hope he can find success in Charlotte.

I hope Plumlee can give Atlanta something, anything.  He is making $12M per year but his stats are not anywhere near what you’d expect for someone making that much money – 2.5 PPG, 2.1 RPG in 10 minutes per game last year.  Belinelli is a shooting guard who should at least be a nice bench asset.  He can shoot the three and give you ten points per game.  He has one year left on his $6M deal. 

What’s next:  How hard will the Hawks pursue free agents Paul Milsap and Tim Hardaway Jr. this offseason?  Where do they see the team moving forward?  Dennis Shroder is the PG and face of the franchise if those two aren’t re-signed but there won’t be much else left around him.  I’d hate to see Atlanta starting over but that may well be what they are doing. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Golden State Warrior Win NBA Championship

The Golden State Warriors won their second NBA championship in two yeas winning the NBA Finals four games to one over the Cleveland Cavaliers.  First and foremost this shouldn’t have been a surprise.  The Warriors are stacked.  They have four star players with good depth.  Even in the game they lost I wasn’t concerned.  They had one horrible quarter defensively but they did score 33 in that same quarter.  And this was with Curry, Thompson and especially Draymond Green not shooting at their normal high standards during the series.  It is fun watching them when they are clicking.  This is a team for the ages with Kevin Durant added to the mix.  I’m not sure what team could challenge them in the future aside from a LeBron led team.     

Series MVP Kevin Durant deserves all the accolades he is getting. Cleveland had no answer for him – 35 PPG, 8 RPG, 5 APG, 1 SPG, 1 BPG, 55%/47%/92%.  That is a crazy stat line playing against an excellent Cleveland Cavaliers team and he played good defense.  We knew he was special and probably the number two guy behind LeBron but there is no doubt now.  Amazing how we knew he was great but was still able to put an exclamation point on it with this series. 

Cleveland has to be disappointed even if they believe they weren’t the better team.  Sans a late game meltdown in game three who knows?  Maybe that, coupled with a game four win, would have put more pressure on Golden State and given them an opportunity to steal the series.  As is they aren’t as good.  I personally think they need to move Kevin Love and get more scoring.  Love hasn’t played a good Finals yet and while I like him, they can do better.  Moving him wouldn’t be easy with his big contract but you never know what might happen.  LeBron once again showed the world how great he is and Kyrie shined for most of the series.  They just really have nothing else to offer.  J.R. Smith was absent at times, Tristan Thompson wasn’t a factor, and the bench was lackluster at best.  We’ll see if this offseason they can give themselves a better shot at beating a stacked Warriors team who isn’t going anywhere. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

2016-17 Panini Threads

First time I had seen the 2016-2-17 Panini Threads basketball cards so I had to grab some.  I have to say it was a bit of a letdown.  The packs contain 20 cards for $4.99 so I'm looking for some bang for my buck.  The inserts in this pack included a wood rookie Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics and Patrick Ewing Board of Directors.  The wood card is a nice looking card and is pretty thick.  The design on the base cards themselves is a good one.  The backs also have plenty of color which is a big plus.
  The pack didn't have a ton of star quality.  Obviously it is only one pack so I can't say this is indicative of other packs but I would have liked to have seen a few more stars. 
So while the pull was a disappointment overall I like these cards and I'm sure I'll pick up another pack.  The price point might mean I don't grab too many but I'll still role the dice on at least one more pack.  
 
BREAKDOWN:
13 - Base Cards
  -- 3 of those were RC
1 - Wood Rookies
1 - Board of Directors

Saturday, June 10, 2017

2017 Topps Archives

I've really enjoyed Topps Archives in the past so it was a no brainer to grab a blaster when the 2017 Topps Archives cards came out this year.  This year's set is a 300 card set with current and former players on cards based on the 1960, 1982 and 1992 Topps card sets.  I'm very happy I did.  I enjoyed these cards as much as last years.  My favorite cards were the Pedro '82, Rob Manfred '82, Tony LaRussa '92 and Johnny Damon '60. 
My big pulls were the two Aaron Judge cards (base and 1960 Rookie Star).  He is obviously a huge player in the eyes of collectors today so that is was fun to see these in the first couple of packs.
No huge inserts like an autograph.  Did grab the Judge 1960 Rookie Star, the Corey Seager Bazooka Baseball card, and a Derek Jeter retrospective card though.  Not a fan of the odd sized cards and the blasters also contain coins which don't do anything for me but one was a Mike Trout so that is a win.  I won't complain as those are personal preferences.  I pulled a redemption card (Kyle Schwarber) last year so I had my hopes up for similar success this year.  Still this was a fun box.
None of these cards are high on my lists of set designs but again I really like them. I think the fact that there are plenty of stars including retired players and three different designs with a new twist make this set standout to me.  Plenty of these cards will go into my personal collection and at some point I'll pick up more.  Too much fun to pass up.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Harold Baines Autographed 1981 Topps Card

Harold Baines is another favorite player of mine whom I've gotten an autograph.  This was on his 1981 Topps rookie card.  I believe I tried getting more autographs through the mail but it wasn't always successful so the Baines and Zane Smith cards are the only autographed cards I have.  This card is cool.  It is his rookie card and to have his autograph on it makes it one of my favorite cards. 
 
Baines was a great hitter and has been brought up in Hall of Fame discussions but I can't say myself that he deserves induction.  I did think he deserve more votes than the 6.1% he topped out at in Hall of Fame voting. There is no denying he was great with the bat.  He finished with 2866 hits, a .289 batting average and was a six time all-star. He also batted .324 in eight post season series to include a World Series appearance with the Oakland A's.  He never excelled at defense and ended up playing DH a good part of his career.  Those two things definitely work against him when looking at his overall career in a hall of fame discusson.  Still 2866 hits! 


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Zane Smith Autographed 1986 Topps Card

Zane Smith was a starting pitcher who didn't have a spectacular career but is a player I am a big fan of.  There is no rhyme or reason to why but he was an Atlanta Brave and Boston Red Sox which is obviously a good start and as a kid I don't doubt I thought his first name was cool.  I mailed off for his autograph but that is about all I remember.  I'm assuming I got the mailing address for the team via a Becket price guide or other sports magazine.  I must not of had many of his cards at the time because I really don't care for the '86 Topps cards.  I do like the photo on the card though and I love this card.  I think I  was in high school or junior college when I got this card and for me just the experience of getting an autograph is too cool.  I also got Harold Baines' autograph through the mail and will share that in another post.  

Smith was only 39-58 with a 4.06 ERA in 6 seasons with with Atlanta. Traded to Montreal he had a great year as a reliever before going back to starting and ended up with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1990 via trade.  He stayed there 6 seasons pitching in two National League Championship Series.  He finished his career with one poor season in Boston.   His 3.74 career ERA was pretty good considering he finished with a losing record.  He didn't strike out many but also didn't give up homeruns or walks which is always a big plus. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

2016 Topps Archives Blaster Break

Picked up a 2016 Topps Archives blaster box at Wal-Mart. They've brought back some of the different blasters at reduced prices.  I really enjoyed these last year so this was a no brainer.
Again I'm very happy.  I didn't pull a redemption card like last year nor did I get any major inserts but I still grabbed quite a few cards for my personal collection. 
Plenty of retired players in this set which is something I really enjoy.  Smoltz, Chipper, Rice - some of may all-time favorites not to mention Ted Williams and Griffey Jr. and Reggie Jackson cards that are pretty sweet looking. 
I like that the set isn't huge which means it is packed full of stars.  The different card designs mean that if I don't like one design there are others to enjoy.  I may have to hit some other Wal-Marts to see what I can find.  This was a lot of fun.