Tuesday, June 28, 2016

2016 Panini Prestige Football Cards

Grabbed a pack of the 2016 Panini Prestige Football cards.  The pack cost $4.99 for 40 cards.  Not too bad a return for cards these days.  The fronts have nice photos and I like the way the name and team logo are displayed.  It is missing the player's position though.  The Prestige logo and year are at the top.  I'm not a foil guy but this isn't overdone.
The backs are a plus with a write-up and the stats you'd expect.  The design seems unique in how the particulars are diplayed and I really like the team logo over the black and white photo which is a reproduction of the front picture.  I like it.  Can't really put my finger on it but I think it is better than some of the others I've seen.
The inserts weren't bad but nothing to write home about.  Still I'm not complaining.  My favorite insert is the Peyton Manning Stars of the NFL card.  I could do without the Xtra Points cards. There is a subtle color highlight but it is just unappealing to me.  Nice pull overall with plenty of stars.  I like these cards and will probably grab more over time.  Panini did well with this set.   

40 Total Cards
32 Base Cards (4 rookie cards)

4 Xtra Points Parallels (3 base / 1 rookie card)
1 Stars of the NFL
1 Connections
1 Big Board
1 Banner Season

Thursday, June 23, 2016

BOOK: Golden Lion by Wilbur Smith and Giles Kristian

The book Golden Lion by Wilbur Smith and Giles Kristian is not one I'd normally pick up but found myself without a book during a recent trip.  I enjoyed it.  The book is set in the 1600's set against the British fighting in Africa, ships, pirates and much more.  If any of these things are up your alley give this book a try.  I enjoyed it enough that I'll look for more books by Wilbur Smith and Giles Kristian. 

Amazon description: 
He saw his father executed in battle. He spent his youth avenging that death. And now Henry 'Hal' Courtney is a man with a ship – and a family – of his own.  But fate has not finished with Hal. On a voyage along the eastern shore of Africa, a powerful enemy abducts his wife, the fearless warrior Judith… and with her, Hal's unborn child. For Hal, a man all too familiar with loss, there is only one way forward: He must track his nemesis across desert and ocean, through the slave markets of Zanzibar and the dangerous waters of the coast, in pursuit of the woman he loves, the child he sired, and the glorious destiny that awaits him.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Atlanta Hawks Trade Jeff Teague

Jeff Teague
Jeff Teague has been traded in a three-way deal in which Teague goes to the Indiana Pacers, the Pacers send George Hill to the Utah Jazz and the Jazz send the 12th pick in this year's draft to the Atlanta Hawks.  You could see this coming.  Teague has only one year left on his deal and the Hawks have 22 year-old Dennis Schroder waiting in the wings.  Teague scored 15.7 points per game on 43% shooting (40% at the arc) and dished out 5.9 assists a game.  He should be a nice addition for Indiana and is only 27.  If he can continue to do well he'll be primed for a big contract when he becomes a free agent.  To me, Utah didn't get much in return for the pick.  I like George Hill and while he is a starter he still has much to prove.  Hopefully he can take that step with the Jazz.  Utah at least knows what they are getting in Hill which may be what they are thinking. 

Dennis Schroder

Schroder doesn't come without questions.  He isn't a great shooter, is 22 and hasn't been a starter save a small stretch in the playoffs.  The good news is he looked good in the playoffs and definitely has ball handling skills.  He just needs to learn how to run a team as their starting point guard and hone his scoring ability.  Atlanta also likes this move due to the money they save as they look at trying to re-sign center Al Horford who will likely command a max deal.  The number 12 pick in the draft will either be used to bring in young talent or packaged to bring in a veteran who can help the team.  Overall I like this deal.  I want Horford back and think it gives them some options for upgrading the rest of the team.  They still need to re-sign small forward Kent Bazemore or find some scoring from the wing.  A nice start to the Atlanta Hawks' offseason. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Cleveland Cavaliers Win the NBA Championship!

Huge Kyrie Irving 3-pointer over Stephen Curry with under a minute to play and the score tied.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James have brought the city a championship for the first time in 50+ years.  And it was well deserved.  After going down 3-1 they became the only team ever to come back from that deficit and they won the 2016 NBA Finals.  LeBron garnered the series MVP as he led all players in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals per game.  And for all his shooting woes he ended up shooting 37% from beyond the arc in the series.  Wow.  Truly historic series for him and Cleveland. Kyrie Irving was a huge part of Clevleand's championship scoring 27 points per game on 47% shooting to include shooting 40% from beyond the arc.  He also added over two steals a game.  Only two other Cavs scored in double digits both averaging 10 points a game (J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson).  Thompson also had a great series averaging a double double.  But James and Irving were the stars who carried Cleveland to this win.  They were excellent considering everyone knew they were Cleveland's offense with the rest of the team struggling to hit shots.  This was still a team game and their Cav's defense can't be overlooked.  It would be one thing to play Golden State tough for one or even two games but to see them do it in multiple games during the series was pretty surprising. 

Klay Thompson (43% on 2's/35% on 3's) and Stephen Curry (40% on both 2's and 3's) struggled to find their shooting stroke under the pressure.   While Curry's 40% from the arc is great for almost any other player it just didn't cut it for the league MVP against a good Cleveland team.  He looked lost out there at times and was posterized by James a couple of times in the series.  He also had a key turnover in the last few moments of game 7.  Despite being suspended for one game Draymond Green was the star of this team leading them in points, rebounds, assists and steals per game.  You couldn't ask for much more from him.  The loss of Andrew Bogut was bigger than many might think in my opinion.  For his limited minutes he still averaged 2 blocks per game (one every 6 minutes) and at least gave them a hint of rim protection.  I thought James and Cleveland were able to use that to their advantage once he was out.  Tough way to end a season in which Golden State could have rightfully put themselves in the "greatest team ever" discussion with their second championship after their record run in the regular season.  Just wasn't to be.
I definitely found myself rooting for Cleveland.  No fan base should have to wait so long to celebrate a championship.  LeBron also deserved it.  He left Cleveland in what was a business decision and it worked out for him as he scored two rings.  Then he came home and lived up to the hype with back to back Finals trips and now another ring, his third in six trips to the championship series.  There are many great stories with this team and I'm happy for all the players.  While you would like to think this team will be to more Finals you just don't know.  Fate can be fickle.  Ask Golden State.  Congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers! 

Redemption Card - Kyle Schwarber 2016 Topps Archives Baseball Fan Favorite FFA-KS

Earlier this month in my review of the 2016 Topps Archives I mentioned I pulled a redemption card.  The Kyle Schwarber fan favorite autograph card came in today.  So in all I think it only took about 3-4 weeks for it to arrive.  That is much better than I had expected.  It is a nice looking card with an on card autograph.  The 1990 Topps design isn't a big favorite of mine but I don't care.  I'm just stoked to grab my first redemption card and only my second autograph ever.     
Now what do I do with it?  Seems like a dumb question but I'm really perplexed.  I'm not a Cubs fan and while Schwarber isn't a player I have a ton of interest in, he could be an up and coming player.  Do I keep it?  Trade it?  Sell it?  Completed auctions on Ebay have it going for $29 and up.  I've never been in this for the money and selling it seems like I'm betraying it if I sell it.  Sounds weird I know.  Still cash is cash which can lead to more cards.  We'll see.  I'll probably make my decision soon.  There are worse things to have to ponder and no matter what I decide it won't diminish the excitement of this pretty cool card.  Thanks Topps!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

2016 Panini Classics Football Trading Cards

Hadn't heard of these before so I picked up two packs of the 2016 Panini Classics football cards.  The base design doesn' tdo much for me.  Too much white and the words at the top of the cards are just annoying.  Not sure the photos really show it but the words (team name, legends, rookies) is duplicated and isn't attractive at all.So the cards are just blah for me.
The pull itself was ok and the retired players were really the highlight.  The don't look any better than the other cards but at least I get some of the retired players to add to my collection.  Inserts were good.  Love the Monday Night Football card and grabbing the Bo Jackson was a nice bonus.  I like records cards so I enjoyed the Willie McGinnest record breaker I pulled. Don't think I'll pick any more of these up but I might grab my guys if I can find singles. 

2 Packs
20 Total Cards
- 18 Base Cards
-- 4 Legends
-- 2 Rookies
1 Monday Night Heroes
1 Record Breakers

Friday, June 10, 2016

2016 Topps Archives Baseball Cards

Grabbed a blaster box of the new 2016 Topps Archives baseball cards.  I liked what I had seen of the reviews so I went all in instead of just looking for individual packs.  And I do like these cards.  The 1953 versions are ok and are all head shots which is pretty boring in my book.  I really like the 1979 cards and the 1991 are nice cards as well.  Between the retired players and regular stars it seemed like a great pull.  I can't complain. 
One of my favorite parts of this set is all the retired players.  There were plenty of former players in my pull which really made this a joy for me.  My favorite cards ended up being the Harold Baines, Craig Biggio, Gary Carter and Mike Trout cards. 
One of the big thrills was pulling my first redemption card - a Kyle Schwarber Fan Favorites Autograph.  Can't wait to get it and I'll post it when it comes in.  The Bull Durham card is a nice insert as is the Topps Super.  The father son cards are nice.  My favorite card of the set was the Harold Baines #1 Draft Pick card.  I'm a Baines guy which definitely helps my appreciation for the card.  I also like that White Sox uniform.  So I really like the cards and will definitely pick up more when I get the opportunity. 

Here is a link to a good blog post on this set at the Dime Boxes blog.   

80 Total Cards
74 Base Cards
- 25 1953
- 25 1979
- 24 1991
2 Topps Supers
1 Bull Durham
1 Father Son
1 #1 Draft Pick
1 Fan Favorites Autograph Redemption Card

Friday, June 3, 2016

2015-16 O-Pee-Chee Platinum Hockey Cards

I've done a few posts on hockey cards and have actually been pretty excited about them due to the great cards Upper Deck puts out.  That emboldened me to pick up a pack of the 2015-16 O-Pee-Chee Platinum Hockey Cards.  I should have put a little more thought into it.  I'm a fringe hockey guy but a big fan of the Upper Deck hockey cards.  

That said, I am not a fan of chrome cards nor am I a fan of expensive cards.  A little research, actually any, would have told me these weren't for me.  There were only four cards in the pack which ran me $4.99.  Ouch.  That was my fault as I didn't pay any attention to the pack or the box I grabbed it  from.  Fail.  And they are chrome and I just don't get chrome cards, or chromium which is another term I've seen them described as. 

That is not to say these aren't good cards.  I just don't appreciate them.  So I'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not these are worth picking up.  Hopefully the pictures do them justice.  I might still pick up a pack of the regular O-Pee-Chee Hockey but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

4 - Base Cards (3 All-Star)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Atlanta Hawks Team Set - 2009-10 Panini Basketball

There is only so much money to go around so in an effort to direct my attention towards getting cards I am seeking as opposed to random cards from packs I've decided to purchase specific team sets or player lots.  Packs are way too much fun for me to stop picking them up but team sets are a way for me to work towards a goal.  Team sets from every year of each of my teams.  To that end I picked up a lot of six Panini Atlanta Hawks team sets.  They only cost $3.33 each (shipped) so it seems like a decent deal.  They came in retail packaging.  Normally I see these sell $4.99.  I'm happy with what I received and I'll probably post all the sets over time.

To the cards - 2010-09 Panini Atlanta Hawks team set. I wasn't actively collecting when these came out so I wasn't familiar with this set.  They aren't bad looking cards but they don't quite stand up to today's sets.  They don't seem to have quite the gloss and overall have a cheaper feel.  But these were low end cards six years ago so I'm not complaining.  I'm ok with both the fronts and backs of the cards.  They aren't overdone yet have the basics (sans the player's position on the front) we are used to.  I am also happy with the player selection.  It is easier in basketball since teams only go about 13 deep anyway.  There were two different Jeff Teague cards, each having a different photo on the front and numbered differently on the back.  Otherwise everything is the same.  Not sure why but interesting.  Anyway a decent start to my team set building.      

Random Pack Break: 2014-15 Panini Prestige Basketball Cards

Grabbed a random pack of cards which ended up being 2014-15 Panini Prestige basketball cards. The fronts have two photos of the player.  One in black and white and one in color. Photos are nice though I prefer in game pictures.  There is also a small team logo, player name and Prestige logo.  Seemed like the team logo could be larger and placed at the bottom with the rest of the information.  Backs are a bit different from what we normally see from Panini which is ok.  
The pull was pretty good with 9 base cards and one insert.  Dirk Nowitzki, Paul George and Deandre Jordan highlight the players I received.  So these are nice cards but not something I'll seek out.  If they come my way who knows.  It will be a game time decision. 

10 - Total Cards
9 - Base Cards (2 RC)
1 - Prestigious Posts 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

NBA Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers will meet once again in the NBA Finals.  This year's Finals should be different in that Cleveland enters the series healthy vice last year when Kevin Love was out the entire series and Kyrie Irving was out after one game due to injury.  That left LeBron James as a one man show that didn't have enough steam with Golden State able to key on James who only shot 39% from the field.  That said, he did score 35 a game while adding 13 boards and 8 assists per contest.  Monster numbers but again Cleveland was outmatched as Stephen Curry and the rest of the Warriors shot 36% from beyond the arc.  And that was with Klay Thompson looking pedestrian adding 15 PPG while only shooting 30% on three’s.  Andre Iguodala of course had a great series on defense as well as on offense as he gained series MVP honors.

Again Cleveland is a different team this year just due to health.  They have looked great in the playoffs being able to hit the three with more regularity than in the regular season.  Of course when that isn’t going down (see two losses to Toronto) things can be bad.  Still they aren’t a one trick pony.  While LeBron’s three point shot isn’t falling this year he can get his as is evident by his 26 PPG (on 62% shooting), 8.5 RPG, and 6.7 APG against Toronto.  Irving and love are great compliments.  Love keeps big men honest by ensuring they have to stay out near the three point line.  Irving can drive, drawing the defense, and shoot threes (hitting 45% in the playoffs after a down regular season beyond the arc).   The rest of the Cavs have been good in the playoffs this year but can be streaky.  They’ll need everyone to play well to get Cleveland their first NBA Championship.  I think the roadblock will be their defense.  Love has never been known for his defense and Irving is also suspect at times.  The guards for Cleveland will have to be on top of their defensive game every minute.  Any chance Cleveland has hinges on trying to get Curry and Thompson off their game.

Golden State looks like world beaters.  Even after going down 3-1 to Oklahoma City they came back with authority.  Curry averaged 27 PPG (41% 3’s) and Thompson added 24 PPG (41% 3’s).  That is a tough combination.   Even with Draymond Green off his game Golden State can score and it makes it tough for any team to keep up.  It seemed the Thunder started to press when they would get down to the Warriors and take bad shots.  So Golden State just needs to keep to their game and play catch me if you can on offense.  On defense I don’t think they have to take any one player out.  I think they have good enough defenders to play Cleveland straight up while assuming that LeBron will probably get his.  If they can disrupt Love and Irving things could fall apart quickly for the Cavaliers.  That isn’t an easy task.  Cleveland has shown they are here to compete these Finals.  Green has not played well in the playoffs.  If he can get it going it will make life miserable for the Cavs.  He really is a huge x-factor that can play havoc on both defense and offense.  Conventional wisdom probably has the Warriors winning this series but I definitely would get down 3-1 to Cleveland.  At some point the Warriors could lose their mojo and a comeback like the one last series might not be possible. 

Golden State should win the series.  With Curry and Thompson at the top of their respective games they are near impossible to beat.  Cleveland has to do whatever it takes to get them off their game and hope the rest of the Warriors can’t pick up the slack.  Good luck doing that but what other choice do they have?  As with last year I don’t have a real rooting interest.  Golden State is a great team that could finish off a historic season with a Finals win.  With Cleveland you just want to see the city win a championship and be able to celebrate, something it has not been able to do for a lifetime.  I’d also like to see LeBron get a championship for his home crowd and not in a city named Miami.  This isn’t a Finals where I think the role players win it.  They might be important but I think the big guns win or lose this series.  And they don’t get any bigger than Curry and Thompson.  Warriors 4-2  

Game 1 Thu, Jun 2 @ Warriors, 9pm (ABC)
Game 2 Sun, Jun 5 @ Warriors, 8pm (ABC)
Game 3 Wed, Jun 8 @ Cavs, 9pm (ABC)
Game 4 Fri, Jun 10 @ Cavs, 9pm (ABC)
Game 5 Mon, Jun 13 @ Warriors, 9pm (ABC)
Game 6 Thu, June 16 @ Cavs, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Game 7 Sun, June 19 @ Warriors, 8pm. (ABC)