Friday, February 13, 2015

2014 Score Football Cards

I've had the 2014 Score football cards for some time now.  They came 52 to a pack but I can't remember if I paid $4.99 or $5.98 for these.  Either way 52 cards is nice big number.  The fronts have plenty of room for the photographs which are all good.  At the bottom the player's name and team name are silver embossed.  This makes it a little tough to read at certain angles.  Below that is colored in team colors with the word Score in very large letters.  To either side of that is the player's position number and jersey number outlined in silver.  These are easier to read than it looks in the pictures.  Not a bad looking front for a card but I'd like to see a team logo and a smaller font on the word Score. 
The backs have the card number and player name at the top with his position and college below that.  A write up follows and a good sized team helmet and the player's info is next - ht, wt, born, drafted.  Next are the stats from the last 3 seasons.  A nice back and I really like the large team helmet.  I might have done some things differently but I'll give them props for at least trying. 
A "Hot 100" subset is part of this set.  It seems as though the only real difference is a different photo and the Hot 100 logo on the front.  I liked this set though I can't say there is any one thing that stands out.  I did like the Franchise card and might look for some more of those.  I'll definitely pick more of this set up as I get a chance. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Baseball Hall of Fame Selections: Craig Biggio

Craig Biggio goes in to the hall of fame on his third try.  He had the magic 3,000 hits but may not have been that dominant player many look for when electing a player to the hall of fame.  He did go to seven all-star games but was never an MVP and didn't lead the league in any of the sexy categories.  Still he did get 3,000 hits, ended up 5th all-time on the doubles list, won four gold gloves, and finished second all-time in hit by pitches.  He also played his entire career with Houston which is not easy to do and did so during the great run the Astros made in the 2000's including making it to the World Series once.  I think he is well deserved of this honor.  He got 3,000 hits which is a magic number and has to be looked at for what it is.  Not all players do it the same way.  He deserved this and I'm happy he made it in.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Baseball Hall of Fame Selections: John Smoltz

One of my all-time favorite Braves, John Smoltz, was elected to the hall of fame with 82% of the vote.  Smoltzy was a difficult candidate to gauge due to his dual role as a starter and a reliever.  He goes in as the only pitcher with 150 saves and 200 wins.  Like Pedro Martinez he didn't have the automatic numbers but I'll say that when I saw him I definitely thought hall of famer.  He played 21 seasons ending with a 3.33 ERA and over 3,000 strikeouts.  He was selected to eight all-star games and won one Cy Young award.  I really believed it might take a few year for Smoltz to be elected so this was a surprise.  He was a huge part of all those Braves teams that went to post season after post season for 15 years.  And when they needed a closer he said yes, reluctantly, and was dominant in his three years in that role.  In the post season he was just as good posting a 15 and 4 record in 209 innings with a 2.67 ERA.  As a Braves fan I couldn't be happier and I'm especially happy for Smoltz. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Baseball Hall of Fame Selections: Pedro Martinez

Next in my look at those players recently voted into the baseball hall of fame is Pedro Martinez.  Pedro was another dominant pitcher though he didn't put up the gaudy numbers Johnson did.  Still he was about as dominant a hurler as there ever was in seven years from 1997 through 2003.  He ended his career with a .687 winning percentage, 3,154 strikeouts, and a career 2.97 ERA.  I'm glad voters didn't get hung up on his lack of total win numbers while voting him in with 91% of the vote. He had three Cy Young wins as well as eight all-star game appearances.  Pedro helped Boston win their first World Series championship in a gazillion years cementing himself as a Red Sox legend.  He is also famous for his "bout" with New York Yankees' coach Don Zimmer.  More funny than fight but people will always look back at that as a classic Yankees-Red Sox moment.  And of course Pedro had those jerry curls...  Very happy to see Pedro go in.  Well deserved. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

2015 Baseball Hall of Fame Selections: Randy Johnson

With baseball spring training coming up very soon I want to look at the new Baseball Hall of Famers who were named recently to be enshrined in Cooperstown.  This is a great class and I'm excited for each of them.  Randy Johnson was a no brainer.  Twenty-two years, 303 wins, 3.29 ERA, and 4,875 strikeouts.  He was selected to 10 all-star games and won five Cy Young awards.  He also added a World Series MVP while helping Arizona win their only title to date.  Definitely one of those guys who deserved 100% of the vote (he received 97.3%).  My favorite Johnson  moment was in an all-star game where a pitch got loose unnerving batter John Kruk.  On the next pitch Kruk bailed before the pitch ever came close to the plate.  It was great fun though Johnson as he was anytime he was on the mound wasn't in the mood to laugh.   


Sunday, February 8, 2015

2015 Topps Baseball Review

I picked up my first 2015 Topps Baseball this weekend which were released last week and I like them.  I picked up a rack pack from the local Wal-Mart Friday night and today.  Each had 36 cards priced at $4.99 each.  There are plenty of inserts, rookies and subsets to peak everyone's interests.  The border of the front of the card has the team's primary color blended with white and some "technical" lines at the bottom.  The player name and team are at the bottom in white with their position in a team colored circle.  The team logo is prominently displayed in the bottom right which is always a big plus with me.  The photographs are good as always and I feel like Topps really put some thought into this year's design. 
 The backs have the team logo in the upper left, with the player and team names to the right of that.  The players position, "series one" and card number are in the upper right.  Player information is below that - ht, wt, bats, throws, birthdate, birthtown, home, signed or drafted, and how acquired.  A small blurb is below that if there is enough room with all the player stats below that.  The player stats contain those from the player's entire career.  I always enjoy being able to see them all.  No issues here.  As with last year WAR has been added as a stat.  A nice looking back to the cards.

Some of the inserts and subsets I pulled were team cards, league leaders, The Babe Ruth Story, first pitch, first homerun, archetypes, free agents, robbed, and highlight of the year.  I highly recommend everyone to check these out.  Again Topps didn't come out with a card that they could design in their sleep.  It is different enough without being all out crazy.  Good job Topps!


Saturday, February 7, 2015

1993 Upper Deck Baseball Team Set: A Look Back

A buddy of mine had some old cards his mom and had dug out of his old room and was nice enough to give them to me.  Nothing too spectacular but there was a 1993 Upper Deck Factory Set among the cards.  I wasn't sure what to do with it but decided to open it up and grab those cards that mean something to me instead of selling it as a whole.  I'm glad I did.  The cards were stuck together after all these years.  The majority had some damage to them from me pulling them apart but many came out in great shape.  It was pretty random as to what cards were and weren't damaged.  Still it was exciting to look at the all the cards, many of which I've never seen before. 
The base cards themselves have great pictures and I've showcased a few here.  The downside is the format for the fronts.  Upper Deck went away from their small Upper Deck logo to having the full name at the top of the card and the only thing at the bottom was the player's name in gold script, team name, and position.  The names are hard to read and while the team name is a bit easier to see there really wasn't much thought put into the design.  I will give cudos for allowing the photos to take center stage.
Eck is one of my all-time favorites and really enjoyed seeing his Cy Young and MVP cards. 
The backs of the cards are actually a plus containing a good sized different picture which is in color.  Below that are the player's stats from their last five seasons.  The set itself contains a wide variety of cards to include award winners/season leaders, a Peter Gammons subset of rookies, star rookies, top prospects and teammate cards.  It made for a very well rounded set that again has great photographs which helps make up for some of it's shortcomings.  It was also fun seeing all the players from yesteryear.  Bottom line is it was lots of fun for me which is all I can ask for. 

The front picture of the Mickey Morandini card was taken about 2 seconds later.  Pretty cool. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

New England Defeats Seattle 28-24 For Fourth Super Bowl Win

They did it and they did in about as exciting a fashion as you could imagine.  Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks for their fourth NFL title.  This puts Brady and Belichick in some elite company among quarterbacks and coaches with four Super Bowl wins.  This game lived up to the hype.  Going down to the final seconds after two New England fourth quarter drives to take a 28-24 lead.  Seattle, as they did at the end of the first half went right downfield and again looked like they'd score a touchdown this time to win the game.  And then little used, even less known rookie cornerback Malcom Butler jumped a route and made a fantastic interception to seal the victory with 20 seconds left.  A great breakdown of the play can be found here.  Tom Brady was smartly named the MVP.

What a game.  I think we were able to see the best of both teams throughout the game.  The Patriots' offense looked as good as ever on their four scoring drives and had it not been for a horrible Tom Brady pass on the first drive of the game, that would have been five drives.  Their game plan wasn't the most sexy but the dink and dunk got them 28 points in the end helped by an offensive line that did very well at protecting Tom Brady.  Their defense also stepped up big in the fourth quarter with stops on Seattle.  Yes, they did play poorly at the end of both halves but they played well when it counted allowing Brady and the offense to retake the lead.  And then with 20 seconds left they made maybe the biggest play of any Super Bowl ever.  New England showed they deserved to be champions.

Seattle also showed they deserved to be there on the cusp of winning their second straight title.  While the offense wasn't spectacular it did show some brilliance but too many times didn't show enough of what made them so good.  That run option is almost unstoppable, or so it seems and I thought they didn't showcase that enough.  Marshawn Lynch was very good and I thought they should have counted on his and Russell Wilson's legs more.  The defense was not as stout as I expected it to be.  The injuries probably played a part but even a dinged up Seahawks defense is better than probably 90% of the league.  Still they weren't quite up to stopping the Pat's offense when it counted and they just didn't seem to have those "oh wow" moments where you thought "now this is the Legion of Boom".  That swagger just wasn't there. 

Again a great game!  I can't say enough about how fun it was to watch.  I of course rooted for my Michigan guy in Tom Brady.  I felt good when the Patriots took the four point lead with just over two minutes left in the game but it was nagging at me that Seattle had way too much time left to score.  They didn't disappoint.  Then came "the call".  Don't hate on it.  It might not have been smart, or maybe it was.  Maybe it was the execution.  I'll never know.  But as Tom Brady said after the game "I'm glad they ran it". 

2014 Topps Baseball Update Series Pack

Picked up a pack of the 2014 Topps Baseball Update Series.  There were 12 cards in the pack which I think I paid $1.99.  I like these cards.  I stand by what I said about the design in my original post on the 2014 Topps cards.  The design is just average.  What I did like about these card were some of the different types of the base cards.  The Abreu card is a nice card that specifies his debut.  While it is labeled "RC" he is already a star and this was not his rookie card.  Still I like the debut information on the front of the card and on the back they detail how he did (2 for 4, 2B, RBI, R). 
I pulled two All-Star game cards.  I love All-Star Game subsets.  These contain photos with the players in their all-star jerseys which I really enjoyed.  I also pulled a Mookie Wilson World Series Hero card.  I love retro and enjoy looking back at cards like this even when they contain players who beat my beloved Red Sox in the World Series.  It is a simple but nice design with a nice write up on the back.  I also pulled two players who would go on to face each other in the World Series.  Jake Peavy in his  San Francisco Giants' uniform and a "The Future is Now" Yordano Ventura of the Kansas City Royals card. 
The other cards in the pack featured players in their new uniforms or young players who might not have been featured in the base set.  The card numbers are numbered with a "US" in front of the number to designate they are part of the update series.  I might actually pick up more of these if given the chance.  Now that the Super Bowl is done it is time to look forward to baseball and the 2015 Topps baseball is due out this week.  Can't wait. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

2014 Topps Platinum Football Cards

It is Super Bowl Sunday so I thought I'd look at the 2014 Topps Platinum football cards.  There were four cards in the pack.  I pulled Marshawn Lynch, A.J. Green, Colin Kaepernick, and Carlos Hyde.  While it is all about football today I'm not that excited about these cards.  They are very shiny but the design doesn't thrill me.  I actually like the backs more than the front.  I can't put my finger on it but I definitely won't be purchasing more of these cards.  Still I think there are collectors who like these shiny type cards so I don't doubt they are popular with other collectors.