Friday, August 31, 2018

2018 Atlanta Falcons Season Preview

The 2017 Atlanta Falcons were able to parlay a 10-6 record into a playoff berth and upset the Los Angeles Rams before losing to the eventual Champion Philadelphia Eagles in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.  There's no reason to believe this team can't post double digit wins again as well as compete for the division title.  The offense which already has stars Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, and Devonta Freeman added star Alabama receiver Steven Ridley to the mix.  There is too much talent on this team to think their offense won't keep them in most games.  Despite 4,000 yards passing Ryan wasn't the player who won MVP in 2016.  Devonta Freeman fought through injuries and didn't put up big numbers and Julio Jones just couldn't find the end zone consistently. This offense is too good to struggle again or second year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian may find himself looking for another job.

  The bend but don't break defense played admirably.  I can't really fault them for the Falcons issues.  They need to get after the quarterback more and improve on getting turnovers.  The Falcons didn't invest heavily on defense in the draft nor pick up any major players for that side of the ball so they'll need to scheme better to see any real improvement.  

I like coach Dan Quinn and based on the team's ability to reach the Super Bowl two years ago I have faith this team can turn it around.  The offense was historically good in 2016 but changing coordinators on that side of the ball seemed to make a huge difference to the negative.  I can't see that trend continuing.  The Falcons are in a tough division but I can see 11 wins for this team and a playoff berth.  Hopefully this season will see a team that is again worthy of a Super Bowl appearance.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

2018 Topps Archives

I'm always excited about the Archives brand of card so I was excited when I grabbed my first pack of 2018 Archives baseball.  This year's set pays homage to Topps baseball sets from '59, '77 and '81 as well  '93 to a lesser degree.  I loved my pull which was highlighted by Ronald Acuna Jr. of my Braves.  Great looking card and boy is he having a great rookie season.  This pack got me excited for more and I'll definitely seek out additional packs.  
The '59 design doesn't do much for me but many of the designs that predate the seventies really don't.  Still I think Topps did a pretty good job merging the old with the new here.
The '77 set is more up my alley as that is about when I started collecting.  And boy did I pull some greats to include personal collection guys David Ortiz and Ozzie Smith.  Bruce Sutter is another player I always liked.  So the design combined with these greats made them a big hit with me.
Were the '81 cards one of my favorites?  No but as with many designs I like the nostalgia combined with current players and retired legends.  I think this is my first Ralph Kiner card.  Topps borrowed a '93 Coming Attraction design to showcase top rookies.  
Great look for some of the Cardinals' future stars.  Harrison Bader is tearing it up right now and Jack Flaherty is 7-6 wit a 3.05 ERA in 20 starts.  

18 – Total Cards
6 - 1959
5 – 1977
5 – 1981
4 – RC
4 – Retired Legends
1 – 1993 Coming Attractions
1 – 1981 Topps Future Stars

Sunday, August 26, 2018

2018 Stadium Club

I always look forward to the Stadium Club cards mostly due to the great photos they always showcase.  The 2018 Stadium Club didn't disappoint in that regard.  The photographs are great quality and pop off the card.  Seeing retired greats in this format is also a big draw.  My pull had some all-time greats with Hank Aaron, George Brett, and Wade Boggs.  The active players were highlighted by current NL MVP possible Matt Carpenter and prospect Victor Robles.  I'm pretty happy with the cards overall but the team name and player name are very hard to make out.  They are actually easier to read in these scans than in hand.  That is definitely a swing an a miss.  That said, it doesn't take away from the great look of these cards.  I am considering grabbing a hobby box of these at the card show in October.  We'll see how it plays out.  Bottom line is I like these cards and those I pulled.    
I'm so hoping there will be a 2019 Matt Carpenter card of him doing the "Salsa".  The backs of these are fairly nice with plenty of color and the player photo.
12 – Total Cards
4 – RC
3 – Retired Greats
1 – Never Compromise

Thursday, August 23, 2018

2018 Topps WWE Road to WrestleMania

This pack of 2018 Topps WWE Road to WrestleMania cards was pretty fun.  The design is nice and colorful and the variety keeps it interesting.  John Cena is the star of the pack while Andre the Giant was the most fun for me.  As a kid everyone loved him.  I'm not real familiar with the rest of the wrestlers but I know some of them are popular.  While I won't pick up more of these I definitely enjoyed this pack.  That makes two wrestling packs in a month which has probably never happened with me before.  Now I am looking forward to the 2018 Women's Division cards which come out the beginning of October.  That set will also have Ronda Rousey's rookie card.      
 Can't go wrong with Andre the Giant!
7 – Total Cards
3 – Raw Men’s Division
2 – Wrestlemania 34 Roster Cards
1 – Cruiserweight Division
1 - WWE Hall of Fame Tribute (Part 1)

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

2018 Big League Baseball

I've been looking forward to the 2018 Big League Baseball cards.  I enjoy sets that aren't too serious and allow you have some fun and this set was designed with young collectors in mind.  The cards are a bit of a thinner stock but that is ok as they don't feel "cheap".  I like the design but would have liked to see almost any color other than the gray they used as the primary color on the front.  Just too bland.  Had to highlight the Odubel Herrera card with his great hair.  I thought I'd see more fun pics like this on the cards but they really weren't to be found.  
  I love seeing Jeff Bagwell in newer sets.  The Kris Bryant card is one I like and who doesn't like 5 tool extraordinaire Bartolo Colon?
  I loved pulling Jose Altuve but the design, when in hand looks like it was cut short at the top.  Still I like the card.  That's a great Honus Wagner pic on the gold parallel.
I do like these cards for the most part and will pick up more.  The 30 cards for $4.99 was more than I expected considering the target audience.  That price point puts them in line with the base set.  I thought these would be a cross between the Bunt cards, which I loved, and Opening Day cards but these don't have the fun vibe I get from either of those.  I haven't see enough yet to think these are really that kid friendly.  Maybe I'm just mad the cards with the dogs got axed.  I really want to like this set and will look for more packs to break.  Maybe some different inserts will help sway me.
30 – Total Cards
4 – RC
3 – Gold
3 – Retired Greats
1 – Stat Kings
1 – Ministers of Mash

1 - Base Players Weekend Nickname Image Variations

Sunday, August 19, 2018

2018 Allen & Ginter

I'm not the fan of the 2018 Allen & Ginter as I am the Gypsy Queen cards but always like giving these retro looking cards a look.  These aren't bad looking cards but I probably won't look for any more. The fronts with the scroll look on the photos is a cool design but there is just something here that doesn't get me excited.  The backs are similar to what we are used to from this brand and don't do much for me.
My pull was excellent with two of the six card going into my personal collection (Aaron and Kimbrel).  The Baseball Equipment of the Ages falls in line with the quirky cards that can be expected in these sets.  The minis, oh the minis.  I so dislike you...

6 – Total Cards
1 – Mini
1 – Retired Great
1 – Baseball Equipment of the Ages

Friday, August 17, 2018

2018 Topps WWE Heritage

While I don't actively follow the WWE right now I always enjoy looking at the cards Topps puts out.  I grabbed this pack of 2018 WWE Heritage and was happy with what I found.  I'd seen this Liv Morgan card many times and was so hoping I'd pull it and I did!  Borrowing from the 1989 Topps design (not sure why they skipped '88 after using the '87 design last year) these cards look pretty good.  There are also plenty of different designs and inserts in this set so that you won't get bored.  
The cards cover wrestlers across the RAW, SmackDown Live and NXT brands of the WWE.  Future Stars and Topps All-Rookie cards are also familiar parts of this set.  
The bronze parallels give a little extra color as one of the different parallels available.  I like the Top 10 Rookies Dash Wilder Card.  Great classic design with a WWE take on it.  The Ric Flair Hall of Fame Tribute card is also a favorite of mine.  I like the Hall of Fame logo and it is a pretty cool picture. 
The Big Legends cards come 4 per fat pack and do a good job of showcasing past greats with the dual photo format reminiscent of the 1989 Topps Big design.  A Shawn Michaels tribute card and a Tag Teams and Stables card round out my look at this set.  A Pack to be Named Later also did a nice post on these cards and I like some of those he pulled.  I like the designs and the variety this pack offered.  While not a big wrestling guy I'm definitely thinking of grabbing more of these packs or at a minimum grabbing some singles.

17 – Total Cards
4 – Big Legends
2 – Tag Teams and Stables
1 – Top 10 Rookies
1 – Future Stars
1 – Topps All-Rookie
1 – Bronze Parallel
1 – Shawn Michaels Tribute
1 - Ric Flair Hall of Fame Tribute Part 3

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Mission: Impossible - Fallout

My pop and I were able to take in Mission: Impossible - Fallout when it came out and we both really enjoyed the movie.  It is a ton of action and while it comes in at 2 hours and 27 minutes it really didn't feel like it.  Haven't seen a Mission Impossible movie in years (I think this is my third overall) and I thought they did a great job.  All the different players, the action, the plot, they all worked for me.  My understanding is they either referenced or used many elements from previous installments of the franchise but I was never confused or wondering what I missed.  Tom Cruise is of course the star and deservedly so.  He not only acted well but also looked great in all the action scenes.  Reading about how many of his own stunts he does, it is amazing.  Just a fun movie to watch.  If this kind of action flick is your thing don't hesitate to give it a try.  
I loved Vanessa Kirby as The White Widow.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Random Wax: 2018 Prestige Football

Picked up a jumbo pack of the 2018 Prestige football.  I do like this set.  The price point (30 cards for $4.99) is also more in line with what I'd expect as well and definitely helps my ability and desire to pick more of these up. The inserts are pretty nice as well and there were a total of four in this pack.  
    The Calvin Ridley Power House was the pack's highlight for me.  I'm hoping he'll help my Falcons offense by giving them another top receiver to complement Julio.  Also like the Andrew Luck card.  I'm really hoping he can stay healthy and have a great year.  I'd hate to see so much potential go to waste due to injuries. 
My pull had plenty of star power and while I shouldn't be surprised to see Josh Gordon again I was.  We'll see if he can get/stay on the field and live up to some of his potential.
The Derrius Guice card below is one I like but unfortunately I believe he is now out for the year.  
30 - Total Cards
4 - RC
2 - Xtra Points Parlallels
2 - Power House
1 - Stars of the NFL
1 - NFL Passport

Sunday, August 12, 2018

2018 Donruss NASCAR

This is my first look at the 2018 Donruss NASCAR cards.  This is one of those Dollar General $1 packs that contains four cards but I can't say no to.  Not much bang for my buck but I haven't seen these around yet.  The Martin Truex Jr. Race Kings was a great pull.  He was the NASCAR champion last year and I like him as a driver.  He is currently third in this year's standings.  The base card of Eric Jones shows more color than last year's set which is a nice change.   The Mark Martin legends card isn't bad though a bit more bland.  The '85 Donruss was never a favorite design of mine so the Corey Lajoie card wasn't a huge plus for me.  I could probably do without those cards but I know the retro looks are a big deal in these sets.  Overall a solid pack with the current circuit champ and a sold retired great.  The solid base card design and nice look on the Race Kings cards are definite wins for me.  I definitely see myself picking up more of these cards.
4 - Total Cards
1 - Race Kings
1 - Legends
1 - Retro '85

Friday, August 10, 2018

Christopher Robin

We were able to watch Christopher Robin at a local drive in tonight.  I really enjoyed the movie.  I like Ewan McGregor in the title roll and Pooh and company were done really well - both as characters and as special effects.  Pooh's dialogue in particular seems spot on and very funny.  I am a bit confused as to the target audience though.  I think anyone who likes Winnie the Pooh or just thinks they'd like the movie probably will.  Younger children may find the adult take on Winnie the Pooh a bit over their head and might get bored.  Older kids may be a better fit though as they'll get it.  I'm not trying to scare anyone off.  I enjoyed the movie and getting to view it at a drive in made it that much more fun.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Random Wax: 2018 Score Football

Grabbed a retail pack of the 2018 Score football.  Not quite the variety of a fat pack but still some nice cards found here.  I like this set and will keep searching these cards out.    
Some pretty nice stars in this pull including stud Vic Beasely Jr. and Aaron Rogers. 
I like seeing the rookies in their college unis. Both the inserts are nice looking cards.  Plenty of color in the Fantasy Stars cards and I like this Signal Callers card of Jameis Winston.  He's looking right at you while his head is framed right between the two words nicely.  
12 – Total Cards
3 – RC
1 – Signal Callers
1 – Fantasy Stars

Monday, August 6, 2018

Random Wax: 2018 Gypsy Queen

Grabbed another pack of the 2018 Gypsy Queen.  I do like this set.  I know Matt Harvey is having a tough year but I like this card of his though I wonder if he is watching a ball he pitched go out of the park.  My pull wasn't too bad with Chris Sale of course being the big star.  Bad thing is he went on the DL the day I ripped into this pack.  Omen?  I sure hope not... 
6 – Total Cards
1 – RC

Saturday, August 4, 2018

2018 Panini Football

These 2018 Panini Football cards are pretty much duds for me.  While I like the fact that the photos take up most the vast majority of the card they just feel cheap.  They seem thin though at a second glance I doubt they are.  There is no gloss which isn't a requirement but might have helped.  I'm even OK with the bland design though I would have liked to have seen a team logo.  You also only get 20 cards per pack which seems low for this brand of football cards. 
 My pull wasn't the strongest but that didn't affect my thoughts on the set.  It just happens sometimes I know.  The backs were fine and I like the large team logo.
Those two on the left are Bronze Knight parallels.  The RC cards are printed on canvas stock which I like though they make the base cards feel that more blah.  The RC may also be SP going two per blaster box and 12 per fat pack box.  
Only two inserts but I liked them both.  The Pillars of Excellence has a nice look while the Franchise Leaders gave me an Emmitt Smith and retired greats are always a plus in my book.  Overall I'm disappointed here and won't be searching these out.  I will say that if the number of cards in the pack were higher I'd be able to overlook the flaws and just enjoy more cards. As is I'll pass.
20 – Total Cards
2 – RC (1 – Bronze Knight Parallel)
1 – Bronze Knight Parallel Base
1 – Pillars of Excellence
1 – Franchise Leaders

Thursday, August 2, 2018

2018 Panini Prestige Football

This pack of 30 2018 Panini Prestige football cards was fun.  I like the design and the photos.  The design isn't straight forward but it still works for me keeping the player front and center.  I'll definitely grab more of these as I get the chance.  
  I thought my pull was pretty good snagging some top players from around the league as well as scoring big with personal favorite Devonta Freeman.  Players on new teams were shown in their new unis which is a plus as well. 
The backs really stood out to me.  They aren't necessarily that important but these are colorful with big color photos on a dark background spanning a good part of the card. 
Those Gabriel and Cobb Jr. cards are some type of parallel but for the life of me I have no idea which one they are.  They just look shinier to me, not any specific color.  The Stars of the NFL insert is a bit different but not bad.
The Power House and 2018 NFL Passport inserts are cards I really like.  Not sure why the Passport card does it for me since is is 80% writing/20% photo.  The colors that come through on the Power House cards are something I like.  Nice Barkley pull.  

30 – Total Cards
5 – RC (1 – Unknown Parallel)
2 – Power House
1 – Unknown Parallel Base
1 – Stars of the NFL
1 – 2018 NFL Passport