Sunday, April 16, 2017

Flea Market Find: 1997-1998 Topps Basketball Box

 I was very excited to find a box of 1997-1998 Topps basketball cards at the local flea market this month.  This was pure fun.  I didn't collect much in the nineties so these are cards I am not familiar with.
I paid $12 for the box which was probably a bit much but I wasn't disappointed.  There are a ton of cards that'll go into my personal collection.  I love cheap boxes of cards.  The design is ok.  There is no position or even the team name or logo on the cards.  This is a cardinal sin for me but I'll let it go.  They are cheap cards for a reason.  I like the backs with a new color photo, career stats, write-up and player information.  This is how backs should be done even if I do need a magnifying glass to read them. 
The inserts were fun as well.  Not spectacular but for the time I think they did a good job.
I will say there were tons of doubles which was a bit disappointing.  I still managed to get the big stars, not counting Hakeem Olajuwon, who was the player featured on the box.  Go figure.  Would I buy these at price equal to today's cards?  No.  Again I look at this purely from a fun standpoint and the cards themselves are all a bonus.  I'd do it again in a heartbeat though at this price.   
384 Total Cards
7 Hall of Fame Stamp
 3 Topps 40th Anniversary Cards
2 NBA Draft Redemption Cards (#17 & #18)
2 Checklists
1 Pressure Points
1 Shooting Stars
1 Fantastic 15
1 Rock Stars

Hawks vs Wizards and Trail Blazers vs Warriors NBA First Round Playoffs

Dwight Howard
Atlanta had a decent enough season (43-39) to get the fifth seed in the NBA's Eastern Conference playoffs but I can't say I really know who this team is.  They'll play the Washington Wizards in the first round who are a much better team.  And more than anything they know who they are.  I'd be surprised if Atlanta wins this series but who knows.  The Hawks will need the entire team to play at a high level every game.  That is not something that has happened consistently this year.  They still don't have that go to player to score when they need it.  I'd love to say I know how this game will go but I just can't get a good read on this series.  I am definitely leaning towards Washington though and think they'll probably take the series in six games.  I hope I'm wrong but Atlanta will have to play much better for something like that to happen.
C.J. McCollum
Portland really came on late in the season and grabbed the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs.  The addition of Jusuf Nurkic at the trading deadline was a big part of the reason Portland raced into the playoffs.  It is currently unknown if he'll actually be able to play after breaking a leg near the end of the season.  This is a big blow.  The team still have stud Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum but this team need a miracle to win multiple games and playing short handed isn't going to help that happen.  I think Portland can win a game but Golden State is so, so talented that a sweep is a definite possibility.  I just have to believe their great play at the end of season can continue and they are able to steal a win or two.  I just can't make myself believe they can win this series. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

2016-17 Donruss Basketball Cards

The 2016-2017 Donruss Basketball cards have been out a while and with the playoffs starting today it is a perfect day to post some basketball cards.  I do like these cards.  Not as much as the Prestige cards from this year which I really love but as an overall set I'm very happy.  The design is a typical Donruss style that I'm good with.  I will say I think the photos are better than Prestige which seemed to be nothing but players dribbling.  More diversity here.   
The backs are colored in the team's primary colors and are fine with me.  They have the standard write-up, player info, last year's stats and career totals.  I will say I don't need total points as a stat.  Who really uses that stat anymore?  Plus steals and blocks were totals as well - no per game averages.  Fail.  Again it is all about per game averages.  This isn't the sixties.  It's not that I need them doing math for me.  It is all about putting the stats in a relevant form.  Plenty of inserts and parallels with the Champ cards sticking out to me. These cards highlight some of the all-time greats and their championship(s).  There are only 15 players in this set and I wish there were more. 
I really like the "Kings" cards across the Donruss sets and these are no different.  I pulled one Court Kings and one Hall Kings.  Great looking cards that have current and former players highlighted.  I'm also a huge fan of All-Star cards in general and these are pretty cool.  I received a Kobe Bryant that looks to be from an All-Star game of the past.  I like it.  Overall I'm very happy with these cards.  I'll probably pursue the insert sets more than I will the base cards but I think they were worth picking up.     

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

2017 Donruss Baseball Cards

These are the 2017 Donruss baseball cards.  I like the base designs.  These harken back to past sets put out with this one actually reminding me of the 1988 Fleer baseball cards.  Not important as these are nice looking cards.  As always with Donruss nowadays there is the distraction of not having the license for the teams.  That stinks but I've learned to get past it.   
The designs on the back aren't bad but I really think just a bit of color could have made them sooo much better.  So they get the ole neck shrug from me.  I was pretty happy with my pull as well.  Baseball sets can be pretty huge so you never know what you might get.   
Some of the cards featured retired players on the current design as well as on cards with the 1983 Donruss look.  Current players also were featured on the 1983 designs.  That set isn't one of my favorites but I'm as nostalgic as the next guy and enjoyed these cards too.  I also pulled a relic card.  Not bad looking and Reed is a rookie this year.  Nice cards.  I won't go looking for these cards but if they happen to be there for me I will definitely consider picking up more.   
A.J. Reed Diamond Collection Relics Card

Monday, April 10, 2017

2016-2017 Panini Prestige Basketball Cards

I love these cards.  It isn't often that I get to say that but I really enjoy this set.  The 2016-2017 Panini Prestige basketball cards hit my local Wal-Mart not too long ago.  I was hesitant to pick up a pack but I'm so glad I did.  Pretty simple design but it really pops for me.  I don't normally gravitate towards cards where the background is muted/faded but this seems to be a case where the other players in the card are muted/faded into the background while the player featured on the card and the rest of the photo still pops with color.  The backs are also fun for me.  I like the color tones for each team.   
They come 30 to a pack and these photos are from the first pack of the four I've now purchased.  The pulls have been great and I only have a handful of doubles from the 120 total cards I now have.  I've gotten most of the big stars and I can't name an NBA "Superstar" I haven't gotten already.    
 The inserts in this pack were a Franchise Favorites, Rookie Class and rainbow parallel.  Nothing too special but I do like the Jimmy Butler card.  If I had to pick out a negative it would be the foil on the player and team names.  I don't like anything where I have to look at it at the right angle to read it.   
I'll probably grab more of these as my budget allows.  Besides the Rogue One Series One cards it has been a while since cards have really wowed me.  I like the simple design and the format choices Panini put out here.  Love to hear what others are saying about these cards.  I'll also post a few cards from the other packs later.  Mostly other inserts but I'll also show off some of the stars. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Baseball Repack Box

The baseball repack box I picked up had 100 cards as well as an unopened pack.  I don't remember what the pack was but I believe there were six cards in it.
While the pack had cards from sets I'd rather forget - '87 Topps or '89 Donruss - I was happy with the variety.  There were plenty of cards and sets I had not seen or collected.
Probably 20-25 of the cards I pulled will end up in my personal collection. 
I'm thinking I'll take another shot on these some day.  I won't rush out to get them but I definitely won't shy away from them either. 

Football Card Repack

A while back I purchased my first repack boxes - a baseball and football at a Walgreens for $4.95 each.  This is the football box.  With the football cards I did get many cards from sets I've never actually had before so that was definitely a bonus. 
There were 75 cards in the box as well as one unopened pack.  I'd never opened repacks before but had a good idea of what I was in for.  Not a ton of stars but I won't complain.
I probably knew 95 % of the players and there were plenty of names to make it fun.  The Jadaveon Clouney card was definitely a nice surprise but unless you are O.K. with just opening these for the fun of it, I would move along. 
Is it worth the money?  No.  But I enjoyedit and pulled probably 10 cards I'll add to my personal collection.  My next post will look at the baseball repack box.       

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Atlanta Falcons NFC Championship Swag

I displayed my old sweatshirt at work in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.
I am, for the most part, over the Super Bowl loss hangover dished out on my Falcons.  As you never know what the future holds for Atlanta or any team I picked up some new swag.  Above left  is a sweatshirt I purchased back in 2000 after the Falcons lost to Denver in the Super Bowl.  To the right is my new hoodie that showed up today commemorating last year's NFC Championship.

I also grabbed a t-shirt as well.  Again you just never know when these things will happen.  I waited almost 20 years for this one and it may never happen again.  Hard to believe that I know but there are plenty of teams who have waited longer.  Anyway I just wanted to show off some of my new, and old, gear. 


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Yaz in honor of Opening Day

2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #78 Carl Yastrzemski
Found a nice Yaz card today at a local Flea Market.  He's my favorite all-time player so it was a fun find.  It is from the 2005 Topps All-Time Favorites set.  Thought I'd post today in honor of opening.  Hope every has a great first day of baseball.

2017 Topps Opening Day Baseball Cards

It's opening day so what's better than some Topps Opening Day baseball cards?  Similar to Topps regular issue these cards include the Opening Day logo as well as cards not found in the standard issue set. 
I always like the Opening Day cards for their cheaper price point and some of the different inserts they offer.  Those include Incredible Eats, Mascots (and autos and relics), National Anthem, Opening Day and other assorted relic and autographed cards.  I like what I saw in my pack of 24 cards and the other blog posts.  I will grab more when I can. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

2017 Boston Red Sox Preview

Mookie Betts
The BostonRed Sox won the American League East in 2016 but were quickly swept from the playoffs by the eventual A.L. Champions the Cleveland Indians 3-0.  Still their season was a success as 93 wins is good no matter how you look at it.  David Ortiz is no longer with the team but the team added stud pitcher Chris Sales, reliever Tyler Thornburg and 1B Mitch Moreland to help keep the team atop the A.L. East.  The big news in the infield is the return of Pablo Sandoval to 3B.  He missed most of the year with an injury last year and has been a disappointment overall in his time with Boston. He must look more like his old self to help this team and stay in the lineup.  Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts are the anchors up the middle.  Both come off great years with Bogaerts looking like a player the team can build around for many years to come.  At first will be new guy Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez who had an excellent bounce back year.  Moreland brings a decent glove to first but his bat is the classic homerun or bust type of swing.  Sandy Leon will be behind the plate.    

In the outfield I think Andrew Benintendi will get the left field job with the expectation he has time
Xander Bogaerts
to grow.  He did well last year but he is young and bumps in the road are to be expected.  Jackie Bradley finally had the year expected of the highly touted center fielder.  In right will be Mookie Betts who had 200 hits and scored 100 runs which was matched by Dustin Pedroia.  His career continues to skew upwards.  Bottom line is the lineup lost a huge piece with David Ortiz retiring.  Boston must also hope most players can continue to play as well as they did last year in his absence.  Many young players had break out years or others had rebound seasons.  Can they continue that trend?  Doubtful they all will but there is so much talent here that the lineup should be fine in the long run.

Chris Sale
The pitching staff also has plenty of talent though David Price’s injury is concerning.  Though he may be slotted as low as third in the starting rotation he is still a guy you counted on for 200 innings of quality work.  Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez will anchor the rotation until Price’s return.  Sale of course was the big catch in the offseason and automatically gives you an ace to throw out there every five days.  Porcello is the AL Cy Young winner while Wright put up a 13 win, 3.33 ERA season last year.  They should both be dependable at the top of the rotation.  Rodriguez must have a better year (4.71 ERA) as he’ll get work as the #4 guy when the season starts.  The fifth position is still up in the air with Drew Pomeranz and Kyle Kendrick in the mix.  Very solid group but it is a long season and the back end could prove to be the weak link if pitchers don’t step up.  Bullpen was tweaked some with Tyler Thornburg brought in to be the setup guy for Craig Kimbrel who must fix the walk issue he struggled with last year.   

Why wouldn’t the Red Sox have a 90 win season and again take the A.L. East?  They can only beat themselves.  I’m not discounting the Blue Jays, the Orioles or that New York could be much better but this team has a ton of talent.  Much of it is young.  So will it get better or digress?  Probably a mix.  Again way too much talent for them to fail.  I expect 90 more wins and hopefully they can make a deep run in the playoffs. 
Dustin Pedroia



Thursday, March 23, 2017

2017 Atlanta Braves Preview

Freddie Freeman
The Atlanta Braves had a bad year in 2016.  They finished 68-93, fifth in the National League East.  That said they finished the second half of the season with a winning record of 37-35.  The trade for Matt Kemp seemed to give the Braves a much needed boost and the Braves have continued to retool during the offseason.  While I wouldn’t say they will contend this year it should be better year overall.

The starting staff added R.A. Dickey, Bartolo Colon, and Jaime Garcia to go along with Julio Teheran and probably Mike Foltynewicz.  Dickey and Colon should eat up innings and if we’re lucky will get Atlanta 12 wins each.  Garcia’s career numbers are good but he always seems to disappoint in the end.  I live near St. Louis and the Cardinal fans do nothing but laugh when this comes up.  Hoping for the best, he is another guy that can get ya 10 -12 wins.  With a little support Julio Teheran should get around 15 wins while Foltynewicz is a bit more of a wild card.  I don’t mind this starting staff.  It won’t wow you per se but it has more upside than what we saw last year.  Dickey and Colon are on one year deals so no huge loss if they struggle but who doesn’t like Bartolo Colon or the knuckleball?  Bullpen hasn’t changed much.  While Jim Johnson resigned to handle the closer duties, all hopes are that Arodys Vizcaino will eventually earn that job from him. 
Bartolo Colon
At catcher the club will go with Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki.  I think Atlanta is happy to go with a defensive minded replacement for now until a better option is available.  Stud first baseman Freddie Freeman returns anchoring the lineup as well as the right side of the infield.  Brandon Phillips was traded for after free agent pickup Sean Rodriguez was injured in the offseason.  I like this move.  Very aggressive even if it is for a veteran on the downside on his career.  Shortstop will again be manned by Dansby Swanson who has everyone excited with his potential.  Adonis Garcia will be at third.  His batting is below average and his defense isn’t great.  They are stuck with him until another option is obtainable. 
Ender Inciarte
The outfield returns Ender Inciarte who has been great in the field and had a very good second half of the season at the plate.  Matt Kemp will man left and I’m hoping he can hit something close to what he did after he was acquired last year.  Light hitting Nick Markakis will be in right.  He at least can get on base at a decent clip and stays healthy but he won’t really wow you otherwise.

Dansby Swanson
Atlanta did a good job in the offseason at least giving themselves a decent team to put out on the field.  Both the offense and pitching should be respectable.  Depth is still an issue so injuries could put a major hurt on them if they pop up.  No one will be expecting them to make a playoff run this year but I do think 70-75 wins is attainable assuming the pitching staff stays healthy and a few things go right for them.  No matter what happens Atlanta should be trending up.  They still have talent in the minors and a new ballpark which should provide more revenue and make them a destination worth looking at for future free agents.   That is the fun part about spring training.  We all still have hope.  And check out this funny five tool Bartolo Colon video hyping his coming to Atlanta. 
Brandon Phillips

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

2014-2015 Panini Prestige Basketball Cards

Another random pack of cards from Target.  These are the 2014-2015 Panini Prestige basketball cards, a set I've never collected before.  There were six cards in the pack, all seen here.  I'm happy with my pull getting Paul George, Kirk Nowitzki, and Andre Jordan among the six.  The Jordan card was an insert, Prestigious Posts.  The fronts are pretty nice having two photos, one of which is black and white which is shown behind a different color photo.  I like how neither photo is obscured giving you two good looks of the player on one card front.  The backs are different with just a few key stats for the player.  Nothing special there.  Still I like these cards.  The photos are nice and the design simplicity is something I like.  Glad I grabbed these. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

2016 Upper Deck Moana Trading Cards

Grabbed a pack of the Upper Deck Moana cards at the local Dollar Tree for a dollar (go figure).  There were five cards in the pack.  The set itself has 20 total cards and the backs of the cards make up a puzzle.  I really like these cards.  They aren't the typical screen shots from the movie but have some great art and presentations of the main characters  I haven't seen the movie but have heard nothing but good things and think I'll see it at some point.  Back to the cards.  I think Upper Deck did a great job.  To me Upper Deck consistently does a very good job and I think these are top notch.  I'm very happy I picked up a pack of these cards.   

Friday, March 17, 2017

Random Pack: 2015-2016 Panini Excalibur Basketball Cards

Grabbed a random pack of the 2015-2016 Panini Excalibur cards at a Target.  I hadn't purchased any before but liked the photos of the cards I've seen.  I do like these cards but I'm not sure why.  I prefer in game photos and backgrounds.  These obviously don't have the photo's background but have a bit of an artistic background to them.  Still it works for me.  The backs are basic but have nice color and design. My pull included Andrew Wiggins, Stephen Curry, and Chris Paul which is a great.  There were eight cards in the pack and I can't remember if the price was $2.99 or $4.99.  I think the former.  Either way they aren't cheap cards. I'll still look for these and pick some up if possible and I'm glad I picked up this pack.     

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Trail Blazers Defeat Spurs

After seeing Atlanta fall to the San Antonio Spurs Tuesday night I was also able to catch the Portland Trail Blazers play San Antonio last night.  It was Portland’s second game in two nights on the road as they fell to New Orleans on Tuesday.  The Blazers prevailed 110-106 in a tough game despite some late game miscues.  Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum starred while new addition Jusuf Nurkic also had a good game.  Lillard led the team with 36 points on 12 of 22 shooting (3/8 threes).  McCollum added 26 hitting both three’s he took.  I like what I see from Nurkic.  He gave them a solid game at center ending the night with 16 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 steals.  Kawhi Leonard had a great game for San Antonio  34P, 9R, 6A, 3S, 2B) while LaMarcus Aldridge added 19 points.  It wasn’t enough in the end.  After erratic play early, Portland put together a late surge to put them up enough to hold off the Spurs.  Lillard and McCollum were once again the driving force and won them the game.  Great to get to see the Trail Blazers play.  They are usually on TV too late at night for my old man schedule.  Also nice to see them win as the season has definitely been a disappointment (30-37) after winning 44 games last year.   

Portland is very reliant on their backcourt as scoring from their forwards has never materialized.  This will have to be addressed at some point.  They gave contract to Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu but they aren’t getting much back for the money spent.  Nurkic looks really good right now and I am loving that trade with Denver.  I do think if Portland can get a bit more punch from the front line they can compete with better teams.  Some better defense is also up there on the list of needs.  Evan Turner ($16M) and Allen Crabbe ($18.5M) are really tying up a lot of money and, while they are very good in their roles, they can’t be paid that much money to give the team nine and 10 points respectively.  I expect that to change once McCollum’s four year contract extension kicks in next season.  As is, all the pressure and shots are coming from the back court and every team knows that.  I believe the future is bright for Portland.  They have two dynamic young stars that if surrounded by a good supporting staff, can take this team far.  I still think they can make it to the playoffs this year as well (currently 2 games out of the playoffs) but as always there are good teams in the West that they will have to catch up to and overtake.  I have hope…