Sunday, March 30, 2014

Major League Baseball Enacts New Rules

MLB has enacted expanded instant replay reviews, the no collisions at home-plate rule, and tried to make things safer for pitchers.  All for getting it right so I love the use of extended replay...and hate it.  This is tough.  Baseball games already last around three hours.  Having to sit through replay reviews seems like a tough pill to swallow.  Where as most folks watch one to two NFL games a week, MLB teams play 5-6 times a week.  While the game itself is fine the speed is something that can be a pain.  I like many can get distracted very easily.  I know this isn't everyone but it something all sports have been fighting for years now.  If viewers aren't engaged they can just as easily flip the channel, pick up their laptop, play on their phone or go to whatever other device that can catch their attention.  I'm not saying I won't like this.  If done right and these calls dwon't drag on too long and this will be a great thing for the sport.  I honestly think umpires will appreciate it as well.  This will reduce the amount of bad calls left out on the field.  Again I'll have a wait and see attitude for now while hoping they can work out any kinks quickly and instant replay will settle into the background as just another part of the game.

The home-plate collision rule is a tough one.  We all love the play.  There is little more exciting.  That said it has always confused me.  Catchers can't block the plate without the ball, but do, and players just can't steam roll defenders, but do.  Always was something that had me scratching my head.  I think they've done about as good a job as possible of putting something in place to help minimize the injuries in plays at home-plate.  But though I never want anyone to get hurt I will miss those massive collisions at home. 

There were also some restrictions lifted on the protective headgear that pitchers can wear.  Some have already been in place but not surprisingly pitchers prefer comfort over safety.  I get it.  I've never had balls whizzing around my head at 100 miles per hour but playing sports in general I've always chosen comfort over anything else.  I think this will boil down to someone coming up with something that will not only be comfortable but safe.  Doesn't look like it is out there yet but someday a company will figure it out. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dissecting The 2013 Game 3 World Series Obstruction Call

Jayson Stark posted a great article on going through the details with all the key players of the game three obstruction call that gave the St. Louis Cardinals a 2-1 series lead in the 2013 World Series.  The play, so unique, took on a life of it's own due to the grand stage, the fact that it ended the game and the fact that the umpires handed it so well. 

I watched it live in my buddies man cave.  He a Cardinals fan and me a Red Sox fan.  It was a great game that came down to the 9th inning.  What more could you ask for?  I was the guy who jumped up and yelled "what" at the screen after the play unfolded.  Not understanding what had happened in the immediate aftermath.  My friend understood quicker than me but I'm not sure I wanted to understand.  As he and the announcers explained it the reality set in.  Ugh.  After watching Yadier Molina thrown out at home on the play, the throw from home to third go awry and what seemed like a sure double play ending to a whacky play I had been so excited...and then it went downhill from there.  The ruling, the confusion, the ongoing explanations, the interviews...  As I drove the 60 miles back to my home I listened to the local sports radio station again going over and over that last play.  It didn't help my mood.  Losing is tough enough, much less when it seemed like the baseball gods had suddenly decided your team was destined to lose the Series.

It was the right call but it didn't make it easy to stomach.  It just seemed so random.  Something out of the player's control.  The fact the Sox won the Series in six games took most of the sting out of that play.  Still, it is one I'll never forget.  It was already a great night sharing good natured ribbing with my buddy all night but to be able to see that game, that play, that ending, in that setting was something I'll never forget.  The fact that he had a 1,000 inch TV was also a big plus.  He is also a smart fan and didn't rub it in (I only did that a little bit after the Red Sox won it all).  Take a look at the article Jayson Stark wrote.  It is a great recounting of all the action with tons of details added.    Even non-Red Sox and Cardinals fans should enjoy. 

Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout Get Big Deals

Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout both signed big deals this week.  They are both in the upper echelon of players in baseball today but are at different points in their career and were paid much differently.  Cabrera got a 10 year $292 million dollar deal while Mike Trout signed a six-year $144.5 million dollar deal.  Cabrera is 30 years-old while Trout is a 22 year-old. 

Cabrera is by almost any standard the best hitter in baseball and has been for some time.  This doesn't mean his contract hasn't made some shake their head.  He will be 40 when the contract ends and the contract is drawing comparisons to the deal Albert Pujols received from the Angels at age 31.  Puljols had an off year his first year with the Angels and was then only able to play 99 games last year due to injury while batting a career low .258.  No matter what the comparisons may be these are two different players.  While Pujols had been a relatively healthy player it was known he had some health issues specifically some feet problems when he left St. Louis.  Cabrera has also been healthy but doesn't seem to have any issues right now that makes me particularly worried about his health.  My thought is that this is a good deal.  He was two years away from free agency but locking him up now takes away all that drama.  In two years he might have commanded more than $30 million a year and maybe they lose him to another team.  Even as good as he is I doubt this deal looks good past year five - at best.  But there is no reason to believe he can't be productive even after that.  The rest of the money is just to ensure he is a Tiger for the remainder of his career.  Maybe his numbers dip with Prince Fielder no longer behind him in the lineup but he was a stud long before Fielder came along.  I like the move and hope it works out for both sides. 

Mike Trout has been a great young player who has lived up to the hype.  The Angels are as much paying him for his future production as they are what he has done the last three years when he made the minimum each year.  This also sets both parties up for the future when his contract runs out.  Trout will be in his prime when the contract ends and assuming he is playing well will be ready for a huge payday.  He'll be 29 and will be able to get a long term monster deal that will set him up for life.  Again I'm assuming he continues to put up good numbers.  The Angels if they want, and can afford to pay him at that time have the franchise player locked up for what may be the rest of his career.  If they don't want to keep him at that time they can walk away.  Trout is truly one of the most dynamic players we've seen in a long time.  This deal seems very fair to both sides and ensure the Angels have one of the game's current studs locked up for at least six years. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Yannick Noah Cheers for His Son Joakim During In Game Interview - A Great Moment

During the March 9th Heat-Bulls game, Jannick Noah was interviewed by ESPN's Lisa Salters.  I watched this game live and it was a great moment.  As she tried to interview the elder Noah you see him react to Joakim's play on the court and it is an awesome scene.  He can't contain himself as Joakim does well on defense and then on offense.  If you haven't seen it you have to check it out.  Here is the YouTube video,  Seeing it live made it that much better.  I love seeing pure emotion like that and it doesn't get any better than a dad cheering for his son. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

1991-1992 Upper Deck Basketball Cards

I'm pretty sure Larry Bird kicked Chuck Person's butt on this day...
This is the final box I have to open from card show I attended earlier this month.  If you read my last post you know I'm a fan of the early Upper Deck offerings.  This was their initial entry into the basketball card arena and they didn't disappoint.  As with the other sports Upper Deck kept the design simple, had good photography, and provided a better card stock than what we were used to.  I became a fan of the NBA in the late 70's early eighties and the NBA was the #1 sport for me during this timeframe.  Chicago was the dominant team of the era but there were so many others during this timeframe, some on the rise, some on the decline - Boston, Detroit, Portland, Utah, Houston, Los Angeles, and Phoenix to just name a few.  Many of my favorite players were in their prime or still very relevant - Dominique, Buck Williams, Eddie Johnson, David Robinson, Larry Smith, Trent Tucker - I could go on and on.  Again I was a huge NBA fan and this box of cards brought back so many great memories. 

This was a standard Upper Deck box - 36 packs with 12 cards per pack for a total of 432.  The fronts had a white border.  Inside that border to the right was basketball hardwood strip going from top to bottom.  Another hardwood strip ran across the bottom of the card.  Where those two intersected you'd have the team logo against a silver background.  The Upper Deck logo is in the upper right of the card while the player name is at the bottom left with their position to the right next to the team logo.  The team names runs vertically on the right of the card.  Again a simple design with plenty of room for photos.  And the photos were great.  Lots of action shots that caught players in action.  Many I've included here are perfect examples. 

The back of the cards have a hardwood
strip to the left of the card with the players name and position.  The card number is at the top left inside the outline of a basketball backboard.  An Upper Deck hologram triangle is next to that. I can't read it but I think legal stuff is under that. Below that is the player's height, weight, birthdate and college.  I would have liked to have seen hometown and where the player was drafted.  Maybe even hometown.  The player's stats from the last six years are under the hardwood strip.  I prefer the player's stats from their entire career but I'll give them a pass since they have the large photos.  The stats include yr, club, games played, fg%, ft%, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, points and points per game average.  Three point percentage is missing but you didn't start to see this on cards till later years.  And again with the totals.  The NBA hasn't looked at stats in terms of totals since the 60's?  Why were we still seeing totals as opposed to per game averages on cards in the 90's?  Ugh.  More of an overall gripe as opposed to a knock against this set.  A large picture on the runs from top to bottom on the right of the card.  Again some great photos here.  Many are as good as those on the front.  The NBA logo is in the bottom right of the photo.  I like the backs.  Again a few complaints about the stats but the great photos more than make up for it. 

Kevin McHale in all his gangly greatness.
The only insert I received were two Michael Jordan holograms though there were the same card (AW4).  Subsets within the base set include "Vs" cards with the likes of Bird vs Person and Magic vs Jordan among others.  The first 14 cards were rookies from the draft.  All-star cards had actual pictures of players from the all-star game with a write-up filling the back of the card.  I really like having photos from the game itself.  The checklists for each team has art from one of the team's key players on the front.  I always enjoy the art on these cards.  There was a good amount of the big stars but I will say if you are trying to build a set there could be issue.  Anyone looking for Robert Parrish contact me.  I have five.  A checklist of the set can be found here.  A video blogger also posted a video of him breaking open a box.
Ron Harper thought this was a shoot for GQ.
This box cost me only $6 but it was worth much more to me.  I have no clue what I'll do with all these cards but I'd do it all over again.  Looking back I probably would have purchased every box the dealer had.  I'll definitely plan on attending the next show in the hopes of finding the same dealer there.  Opening these boxes were great.  I haven't had this much fun in quite some time. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

1991 Upper Deck Football Box Break

This is the third of four boxes of cards I picked up earlier this month at a local card show.  I'm a big fan of the early Upper Deck offerings so I was definitely looking forward to this box.  To the left were three of my favorites.  Bob Golic just screams football player in this photo, Cortez Kennedy introduces himself to a Patriots running back, and Jim Harbaugh is on the business end of a Leon Seals hit.  Great photos which is something I saw throughout this break. 

To the box itself.  The box only cost me five dollars so this was definitely a win!  There were 36 packs in the box with 12 cards per pack for a total of 432 cards.  I received two of the Joe Namath Football Heroes set.  Nice cards and at that time retired players were not common in sets so this was a big deal.  The other insert I received was a Marion Butts hologram game breaker card.  The cards were both low and high series cards though the box was labeled "High Numbers".  With both high and low series cards you'd see things such as me pulling the Alvin Harper Star Rookie card (#24) and the Alvin Harper Rookie Force (#634) cards.  The first had Harper in his Tennessee Volunteers uniform and the second had him in his Cowboys uniform.  I liked getting the different cards of the same player in that manner.  My favorite pull of high-low series instances was getting Roger Craig in his 49ers (low) and then his Raiders (high) uniform.  Nice job by Upper Deck.  Team checklists have art of one of the team's players on the front.  I really liked this about Upper Deck who did this throughout their cards in the various sports.  I also mentioned the different rookie cards.  There was also Team MVP cards of the team's "MVP".  As with the rookie cards the logo (MVP, Rookie Force, etc) takes the place of the "football" in the lower right corner which keeps it from interfering with the photo. 

Howie Long With Kansas City Royal Great George Brett
The cards themselves come in both portrait and landscape views.  The Upper Deck logo with the year of the set are in the upper left hand corner.  A secondary team colored border runs down the left of and bottom of the card with a second team color also running below that at the bottom.  The two lines at the bottom end up curving into a football shape at the bottom right of the card with the team logo in the middle.  I like this.  It is a subtle thing but looks great on the card.  The player's name is in the bottom left in the second border color and the player's position is just to the left of the "football" again in the second colored border on the bottom.  Overall a good looking card with lots of room for the photo which is the main focus of the fronts of these cards.

Jim Everett is point at a guy who called him Chris...oh that was Jim Rome...

The back of the cards are done in landscape though the card number, Upper Deck logo, Team NFL logo, NFLPA logo, and player's position and number are positioned in portrait. 
At the top is a blue bordered area with the player's name in red, team, Ht., Wt. College, birthdate and where born.  To the right of that information is the player's stats for the last five seasons.  Standard stats which are fine but you don't get the games played for each season.  Important when putting stat totals in perspective.  That is my only complaint there.  At the bottom is a color photo different from the one on the front of the card.  They range from action shots, to standing, sitting or even the random photos as depicted above on the Vance Johnson card.  The photos are the same quality as the front which makes the back really pop.

I was definitely that guy who loved Upper Deck when it came out in the 90's.  The better card stock, great photos, white backgrounds and really different card designs made them a hit with me and of course many others.  They were definitely the golden boys for a time.  So picking this box up at such a great price was a no brainer.  The cards themselves definitely have a fond place in my collecting memory. The fun of opening all those packs and reliving those memories from 20 plus years ago was great. 

2014 Topps Heritage

Walked into our Wal-Mart this morning and they had some new cards to include the 2014 Topps Heritage rack packs containing 20 cards.  I've never been a huge fan of the heritage cards. This goes against my motto "love the retro" but the 2014 cards didn't do anything to change my mind.  Don't get me wrong.  I think Topps did a good job recreating the 1965 look.  It just isn't for me.  The one card I did like was the Jose Altuve card.  The orange uni with the blue had looked sharp and I didn't mind the dugout shot.  The Latos card was funny if nothing else.  I also liked the alternate white Mets had Matt Harvey is wearing. 
I think Latos just told someone to pull his finger...
While I often enjoy the older style cards I do not like the older style non-action type photos.  These are just too boring.  Maybe that isn't fair to these sets but it is something that is important to me.  The photos of the cards I pulled are all head shots from games or standing poses that look to have come from spring training.  I'll put it this way.  I won't give a card with a head shot of Ben Revere a second look but a Ben Revere diving catch is another thing.  From the reading I've done on the set there are some action shots but they are rare.  Again the overall design is fine as are the stats you find on the backs of the cards.  

Maybe the cards in this specific pack didn't help.  Johan Santana was the big star and there were no inserts.  Kind of a bust.  I did receive two rookie stars cards but that was it.  Looking at the checklists it does look like there is quite a bit more this set has to offer.  Beckett also has a nice write-up on the set detailing some of the highlights if you'd like to find out some more detail.  Anyone who likes the retro looking cards should pick these up.  As for me I won't buy anymore.  Again it isn't for a lack of effort on Topps' part.  The lack of action shots just doesn't do it for me. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

2014 Winter Olympics

I am someone who looks forward to the Olympics.  I was that way as a kid though in my 20's and 30's I went away from them a bit.  Too many distractions during that timeframe I think.  Now I look forward to everything it offers.  The opening and closing ceremonies, the host nation's ability to showcase their country, the rivalries, the individual stories - all of it.  This year was no different with the Winter Olympics.  I'm glad the questions about security and hotel completeness were non stories during the Olympics.  I loved seeing the closing ceremony where those putting it on poked fun at themselves as shown above.  I don't worry about politics during the games.  I'm glad Russia put on a good show.  I want the games to be the story.  Unfortunately the weather wasn't always great but that was out of everyone's control.  Love seeing the different sports that you never see in the four years in between the winter games.  Great times.  I don't have specific stories but I enjoyed it all.  The cross country skiers collapsing after finishing is one image I'll definitely take away.  Oh they had to be exhausted.  The physical and mental toughness it must take to that is something I'll always admire.  We'll just say this is my way of saying I enjoyed the Olympics and can't wait until 2016.
U.S. didn't fair too well but Olympic hockey is always a big story and is fun to watch.
Curling is one of those sports that are so unique and where I work was always a topic of conversation.  Great to see small sports like this get their time on center stage. 

Tampa Buccaneers Get New Uniforms

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers unveiled new jerseys this month.  I thought I'd put down a few thoughts on paper.  First you must know I was that kid to whom uniforms were important.  I'm sure a good part of the reason I came to be a Michigan Wolverines fan was the uniforms.  Yes, them being a national power in the 70's and being on TV quite a bit played into it but I was that kid especially when it came to football.  To this day I still love uniforms and like to stay on top of changes around the leagues.  Paul Lukas and his Uni Watch website is where I go to stay up to date on uniform news.  It is a great site so go there now - well after your read this post.  So now you know uniforms have some value to me. 

Now this being a Tampa Bay reveal also plays into me actually putting my thoughts on paper.  I followed the Bucs for years (70's-90's) as more than a casual fan.  Unfortunately I had to pair down the number of NFL teams of which I was a true fan and the Bucs missed the cut.  One of things I always loved about Tampa Bay was that uniform.  Yes, the dreaded creamsicle unis.  I love those uniforms.  I know the majority despises them but I love them.  And I'm not the only one.  Heck there is an urban dictionary reference for Creamsicle Nation.  I believe Chris Berman coined the "creamsicle" term and often talks about his love for those early Tampa teams.  Ok, yes this post is about the new uniforms.  Just had to get out my background as it pertains to Tampa Bay, uniforms and Creamsicle Nation so you know where I am comming from.
When I first saw the pics of the updated duds I immediately thought of the rash of college uniforms. 
As someone that is almost 45 years-old I, like some others of my generation, have issues with some of the new uniforms out there.  Comparatively this one isn't too bad.  Not great but I've seen worse.  The new helmet design is ok.  Mostly just an oversized re-imagined version of the original team logo on the helmet.  The alternate logos aren't bad either.  Simple re-designs that work with what was already in place. 

My biggest issue with the uniforms themselves is the font used for the numbers. I know I'm not the only one as I've read different reviews that also mention the numbers as being a big detractor.  Someone described them as alarm clock numbers.  No argument here.  Just hideous.  I get teams want to be different but ugh.  I don't do well with change sometimes and I'm wishing Tampa had not gone so far out there when they chose the font for the numbers.  The colors on the uniform are ok but sometimes it seems teams are trying to get too many colors and design elements into their uniforms.  They even have some creamsicle in there.  I'm just not sure it works for me.  The pewter seems too much like a faded black.  I'm being picky but what will really matter is seeing these guys on the field and time.  I didn't like the Atlanta Falcons jerseys when they made the change in 2003.  But I've grown to like them.  I actually thought Tampa had a good looking jersey in the red with the pewter helmet.  I think they could have just tweaked what they had and didn't need a complete redesign. 

To sum up not a bad effort but I think I'll never like the uniforms if for no other reason because of those horrible looking numbers.  I can write everything else off as a fact of change but the numbers just look bad.  I wonder what folks were thinking when they approved those.  Were they trying to be as different as possible no matter the backlash?  A "any news including bad news is good news" type situation?  Not sure.  I really hope other teams looking at this will learn from the mistakes.  I understand uniforms will change whether I like it or not.  But I really think the designers here just made one bad choice which really takes away from an otherwise good effort. 
Creamsicle Awesomeness!


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

1992 Topps Football High Series Box Break

So at the card show this weekend I picked up some cheap early 90's card boxes.  One of which was the 1992 Topps football high series box.  Only I didn't pay close attention and didn't realize it was a high numbers box.  So I was stoked.  I had also picked up other boxes to include a box of Wild Card football high numbers.  Opening the box of Wild Card high numbers I was lucky the packs contained half high numbered cards and half the base set.  With the Topps set?  Not so lucky.  The box had 36 packs each containing 15 for a total of 540 cards.  Sweet.  Oh wait the high number series only contains 99 cards.  Bummer...  Can you say lots of doubles?  Triples?  Quadruples?  All is not lost.  I did grab 5 of the Brett Favre cards which is the prize of the set.  Yeah!  In fact it seems I got about that many of most of the cards.  Really the duplicates weren't much of a negative and I enjoyed opening the box.  Heck opening any box of cards is fun.  Next time I'm buying a cheap boxes I'll pay a little more attention though.  Still it won't dampen my enthusiasm.  To get a box of cards for $5 box is always a win. Each pack came with a gold card meaning the player's name and team name had gold over them.  Bump's the value some but otherwise the look is not appealing to me. 
The front of the cards have a white border.  The main photos are a good size and are framed by a white line and a team appropriate colored line.  The Topps logo is in white or black near the top of the photo.  It is on the right or left depending on which works best with the photo.  The player's name and team name are at the bottom of the card, again, in team appropriate colors.  Would have liked to have seen the player's position but this design works so I won't complain.  I like these cards.  The cards I pulled for the most part were action shots and the colors really jumped out at me.  Deion Sanders' black Falcons uniform really worked and the greens for Randall Cunningham and Ken O'Brian made for really sharp cards.  The Dale Carter in the red was another vibrant looking card with all the red.  It isn't all about color for me but these photos just looked really nice and the colors popped.  
The backs have white backgrounds.  I don't know when Topps went away from the old orange background but I think this may have been one of their first years with a white background.  Definitely better than the older more drab look.  The card number is in the upper left with the player's name, position, and team to the right of that framed in a team colored box.  Below that is a large box encompassing most of the back of the card in a team colored border.  At the top of that box is the player's personal information - HT, WT, ACQ, DRFT, COLLEGE, BORN, HOME.  No issues here.  The stats for each year of the player's career are next.  One of my favorite things about Topps' cards is just that - getting to see all the stats.  I won't list out all the categories they have for each position but I had few issues with them.  After the stats there is a quick write-up on the player.  After that is a photo of the team's home field that goes from side to side with the name of the stadium just below it in black.  To finish it off the Topps logo is at the bottom left and the players logo is at the bottom right.  Last but not least the Topps logo is also featured in the center of the back of the card in a muted blue outline in the background.  Overall a nice looking back that hits some highs while having few detractors. 

Maybe it is the buzz from just getting to open boxes of cards for the first time in years but I really enjoyed opening this box even if it was only high numbers.  It was packed with stars and the photos are very good.  The design is simple but still appealed to me.  The price of $5 was well worth it for the enjoyment I got out of this box. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

2013-2014 Hoops NBA Jumbo Pack Break

I've posted on these cards once before.  I was a little on the fence about this set due to the backs but the fact that I purchased them again says something.  The jumbo packs have more inserts and I wanted to take a look at what they had to offer.  This is how the pack broke down:

Cards - 50
Gold Bordered Cards - 5
Hall of Fame Heroes - 2 (Calvin Murphy and Drazen Petrovic)
NBA Hoops Dreams - 2 (Jimmy Butler and Damian Lillard)
Class Action - 2 (Blake Griffin and Gary Payton)
Board Members - 2 (Kevin Love and Nikola Vucevic)
Action Shots - 2 (LeBron James and Kevin Durant)
Courtside - 2 (Paul Pierce and Tony Parker)
Spark Plugs - 2 (Gerald Green and Jamaal Crawford)
Rookie Cards - 4 (Alex Len, Isaiah Canaan, Nerlens Noel, Reggie Bullock)
Basic Cards - 27
No complaints with any of the inserts.  After seeing Lebron and Durant actions shots inserts it was all good.  Those two cards ore nice.  I won't say they are my favorites but nice cards.  None of the inserts rub me the wrong way.  My favorites are the Spark Plugs cards.  Nothing special but different enough to get my attention.  The Hall of Fame cards are nice but I wouldn't have minded something a little more something.  That is vague I know but they just seem to be lacking something. 

To be honest what catches my attention is the front of the basic cards.  Fairly simple, good photography and design that catches my eye.  It.  Sometimes the inserts try to put too much on fronts of the cards and it distracts from the player.  That may be more of a personal preference but that is my take on cards as a whole.  Again I recommend these to anyone who won't take too big of an issue with the back.  The price point ( I paid $12) isn't too bad though it looks like I could have found these a little bit cheaper online if I had put some effort into it.  Still it isn't enough to worry too much about.  Pick you up some of these if you like NBA cards.  I don't think you'll be disappointed. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

2014 Donruss Baseball Cards Review

I was curious to see the return of Donruss to baseball cards so I picked up a pack of their 2014 offering.  You can find Cardboard Connections breakdown of the set contents here.  I paid $7 at a local sports collectors show.  The pack came with eight cards and one insert.  Donruss doesn't have the MLB license so you won't find team logos or mascot names here.  Six of the cards were of current players and three were of retired players. 

The front of the card is bordered in white with two short thick colored lines on the left and right of the card about halfway up the card.  They are colored in the appropriate team colors.  A prominent Donruss logo is in the upper left of the card.  The actual picture has a white and black border.  The team's city is in script and the bottom left with the player name and position to the right of that.  This is a simple front that I like.  Borders could have been a big smaller but the framing of the picture works for me. 

The back of the card has a blue background except where the stats are located and that background is white.  The card number is at the upper left inside a baseball.  At the center top is the player's name with the following below that:  birthdate, birthplace, ht, wgt, bats, throws.  Then comes some legal stuff and then the stats.  The stats are the 2013 stats (for active players) and career totals for both active and retired players.   You'll find the YR, TEAM, W, L, ERA, G, GS, SV, IP, H, BB, K, and WHIP for pitchers and YR, TEAM, GA, AB, R, H, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, SB, OBP, SLG, and AVG for batters. A small Panini logo is after that with a write-up after that.  The write-ups are somewhat generic but good.  The Chipper offering was a little more personal with a story of how far some diehard fans went (converted seven acres of their farm into a maze with Jones' likeness).  Then comes the copyright and licensing stuff at the very bottom.   No complaints with the stats or the card back.  It harkens back to an older design and I'm all about that if done right.  I prefer more stats if not all the stats from each year the player played.  In fact that will be my one complaint about the back of these cards.   

This is a nice looking set.  I would get it if someone said they were a bit plain but it works for me.  Would like to see some more of the inserts but they've already shown they like putting past players in their packs so that is a big plus for me.  Solid effort from Donruss.  And bonus for three of the eight cards being Braves' players.  I'd like to see baseball get away from exclusive contracts.  I just don't see how they are good for the hobby.  Would love to see more products like this, just with the team logos.  Good job Donruss. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

1993 Wild Card Superchrome High Numbers Box Break

The Natrone Means card is a chrome version of the 1993 Wild Card NFL cards.

One of the boxes I purchased from the local sports show yesterday was a 1993 Wild Card Superchrome High Numbers Box.  I wasn't familiar with these cards though I had seen the Wild Card baskeball and MLB cards before.  So I thought It'd be nice to strike out with something new.  The description of the set is at the bottom of this post. 

The box contained 18 cards with 12 cards per pack with a few extra inserts which gave me approximately 218 cards.  There were 6 chrome cards and 6 standard cards in each pack.  I'm not a big chrome guy and these weren't any different though I'll say they look better this morning in better light.  They seemed very dark last night under the light bulbs.  The front of the cards have the wild card logo in the upper left hand corner while the player's name, team, position and words "NFL PLAYERS" are on a gold "ribbon" along the bottom of the card.  There are no borders.  The photos are nice though I noticed two of which where the player's card I was looking at was obscured for the most part by another player.  Can't say I've seen that to this extent before.  It was very obvious.  The Patriots show the players in their older red jerseys as well as the new blue jerseys that we are used to now.  Again nice photos but the chrome just takes away from that for me. 

The backs have the Wild Card logo in the upper left again, with the card number, player's name, team, position, date of birth, height, weight, and college against a gold background.  Stats are on a transparent gold background and include career stats for each player.  The stats are very basic and can be hard to read if not in proper lighting.  The background of the back of the card is a cityscape of what I'm assuming is the teams host city.  My favorite part of the rear of the card is a picture that runs along the right side of the card.  These are different pictures from what are on the front and very nice.  I really enjoyed these.  The copyright information and NFL players association are at the bottom.  Overall a nice back. 

An interesting note is a sheet you find when you open the box.  It talks about an ongoing lawsuit Wild Cards had against the NFL.  It didn't go into specifics but had won the latest round of challenges.  Definitely not something I was expecting and was an interesting side note.  Tons of doubles in this box which isn't a surprise since it only contained high series cards.  I received the Troy Aikman Ground Force chrome card which had a rookie on the backside of the card (Dana Stufflefield).  I also received a Michael Irvin Field Force card.  You don't get all the stars with this being more of an update type set so it was a little big disappointing in that regard.  But don't get me wrong.  I enjoyed opening the box and it is always fun to see something new.  Not saying I'd pick it up again but the cards are overall some nice cards and at $5 I couldn't beat the price. 

The below set description came from Beckett. 

Set Description: The 1993 Wild Card NFL football set consists of 260 standard-size cards. The first series cards are checklisted according to teams. Randomly inserted in early 1993 Wild Card packs were cards from the 1993 Stat Smashers, Field Force, and Red Hot Rookies sets. A different packaging scheme begun early in 1994 featured six Superchrome counterparts to the regular cards inserted in special Superchrome 15-card low-series and 13-card high-series hobby packs, and are valued at four to nine times the value of the regular issue cards. One of ten Superchrome Back-to-Back inserts, featuring a Field Force player on the front and a Red Hot Rookie on the back, was inserted in each 18-pack box. Also, special striped cards were randomly inserted into regular Wild Card packs. These cards came in varying "denominations" of stripes, ranging from five to 1,000, and the corresponding values for them are noted in the header below. Rookie Cards include Jerome Bettis, Drew Bledsoe, Reggie Brooks, Derek Brown, Garrison Hearst, O.J. McDuffie and Rick Mirer.

Westport Sports Collectible and Autograph Convention - March, 2014

Yesterday I attended the Westport Sports Collectible and Autograph Convention in St. Louis.  This is the third show I've attended in the St. Louis area, second at the Westport, since moving back to the area.  I'm about an hour from the city and meet a buddy who lives there and we go together.  It is always a fun time.  I'm picky, and somewhat frugal, so I haven't gotten an autograph from any of those signing at the shows but I will when the right star is there.  I normally stick to cards and to picking up my favorite players or non-sports cards.   

My buddy is more of a collectibles guy who skews towards signed balls, signed jerseys, and art.  He has a man cave he's finished in the last year and has been decorating with lots of Cardinals memorabilia.  He has done a great job.  Yesterday he picked up a signed Stan Musial ball for a decent price.  I'm a trading card guy.  Sports on non-sports I'm all good.  There wasn't a ton of cards from the 70's to present so there weren't as many cards as usual that caught my attention.  I say that, but there was a guy with a nice collection of non-sports cards and sets but they were just out of my price range.  Cool stuff. 

Rarely see Buck Williams in this jersey. 
What sports cards they did have that caught my attention were more card boxes and wax packs than I'm used to seeing at the shows.  Always fun to pick these up when I can.  I grabbed a pack of the new Donruss baseball cards, a jumbo pack of the NBA Hoops, and a pack of NFL Panini contenders.  But my big haul came at a table that had boxes from the big four sports from the 1991-1993 timeframe for $3-$6.  I know none of the cards were worth much but those were great prices for boxes of cards and I couldn't pass it up.  I grabbed an Upper Deck Football, Upper Deck Basketball, Wild Card Football, and Topps Football box.  Sweet!  So last night was very fun opening all those packs.  I haven't done that for years and it was very exciting.  I'll follow up soon with posts on each box I opened.  I also grabbed some 2012-2013 Panini NBA Contenders singles for 25 cents each.  Buck Williams is one of my all-time favorite NBA players and I love the cards with retired players so I picked up a handful. 

Quick side note on the autograph thing.  I like autographs but usually only get them if I get the autograph in person.  To that end I only two that I remember.  One is Hank Aaron's on a Donruss puzzle but I actually had a friend take it to a show in St. Louis and get the autograph for me.  I also have the autograph of Martin Nodell, the artist of the original Green Lantern series.  I got his autograph in person at a comic book show in Kansas City in the early 1990's.  The autograph is on a card with the cover to one of his comics.  I'd love to get the autograph of some of my all-time favorite players but that is an expensive proposition.  Still I think I'll get some at some point.  More to come on that. 

To sum up.  Yesterday was a good time and I always enjoy seeing what is out there even if I wouldn't be considered a serious collector right now.  I'll probably do a post of my trip to the National Sports Collectors Convention back in the 90's.  My buddy Yaj and our friend B.K. went and it was a great time.  So I should have a few other posts hitting shortly as the ice and snow have me house bound.  Good times.